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Italy hails new sprint king, as drama unfolds at airport

LAMONT Marcell Jacobs of Italy celebrates after winning gold. — REUTERS

TOKYO — Lamont Marcell Jacobs won the most coveted crown in athletics on Sunday, giving Italy its first 100 meters gold on a night of high drama in Tokyo.

As Jacobs stormed to the first Olympic title of the post-Usain Bolt era, the fate of a Belarusian sprinter’s Tokyo Games was playing out at a nearby airport.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who had been due to compete in the women’s 200 meters on Monday, told Reuters she had sought the protection of Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda airport after being taken to the airport against her wishes.

She said the Belarusian coaching staff had taken her to the airport to board a flight back home after she had complained about national coaches at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I will not return to Belarus,” she told Reuters in a message over Telegram.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors’ advice about her “emotional, psychological state.”

In a video published on Telegram by the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, Tsimanouskaya asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to get involved in her case.

An IOC spokesperson said the governing body had seen media reports and was looking into it. The spokesperson said it had asked Belarus’ Olympic committee for clarification.

A Reuters photographer witnessed the athlete standing next to Japanese police.

Jacobs’ European record 9.80 second run ended Fred Kerley’s bid to become the first American winner since Justin Gatlin in 2004. Kerley took silver in a personal best 9.84, while Canada’s Andre de Grasse 9.89 earned him a bronze.

“I’ve won an Olympic gold after Bolt, it’s unbelievable,” said the sprinter, who was born in the United States but moved to Europe with his Italian mother when he was a month old.

Gianmarco Tamberi made it double gold for Italy with an emotional, and unusual, high jump victory in a night to remember. The 29-year-old shared the gold with Qatar’s world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim.

Tamberi, who broke his ankle days before the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, hugged everyone he could find on the track. Draped in an Italian flag, he was also the first to embrace Jacobs after his 100m win.

Italy ended the day in the top 10 of the Olympics medal tally with four golds. China was on top with 24 golds, the United States second with 20. Japan were third with 17 and Australia fourth with 14.

DAY OF FIRSTS
It was a day of firsts across Tokyo’s sporting arenas. In gymnastics, Artem Dolgopyat won the men’s floor exercise delivering Israel’s first Olympic title since 2004, and only second ever.

Rebeca Andrade, a surprise silver medalist in the all-around, went one better in the vault to give Brazil its first ever women’s title in gymnastics.

American Simone Biles was not competing, having earlier announced her decision to also pull out of Monday’s floor exercise final as she continued to deal with the mental health issues that have limited her to a single vault in Tokyo.

Emma McKeon continued Australia’s success on the final day of competition in the pool to become the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympic Games when she won golds in the 50m freestyle and 4×100 medley relay. — Reuters

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