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Olympic sprint champ Jacobs says reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win"

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

Driving the news: The 26-year-old athlete was born in El Paso to a U.S. serviceman father and Italian mother before moving to Italy with his mom as a baby. He's received encouraging messages since he reconnected with his Dallas-based father, Jacobs notes.

  • Jacobs' mental health coach told him "if you want to run fast, you need to get to a place that feels good for you with your father," he recalled.
  • "You are in your blood American ... and you need to speak with him to arrive at the Olympic Games and maybe win," he quoted the adviser as saying.

The big picture: Sunday's race was the first Tokyo Games men's 100m final since athletics great Usain Bolt retired.

  • Jacobs wasa relative-unknown before he won the race, leaving American Fred Kerley with a silver medal and Canada’s Andre de Grasse with bronze.

Zoom in: Kerley told reporters he "didn't know nothing about" 26-year-old Jacobs before his win, while De Grasse said: "I thought my main competition would be the Americans ... he really shocked me and surprised me, so really congrats to him."

  • Even Jacobs seemed shocked by his win, describing the result as "incredible" and "like a dream."
  • "I think I need four or five years to realize and understand what's happening," he added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further comment from Jacobs on his father.

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