Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs said Wednesday he yearned to be tagged as favourite going into the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, despite it carrying a great weight of expectation after a “rollercoaster” of a season.
Jacobs has had a difficult campaign, twice pulling out of 100m showdowns with world champion Fred Kerley with a back problem.
His sole outdoors outing this season saw him finish seventh in the Diamond League meeting in Paris, well off the pace in 10.21 seconds.
“It hasn’t been an easy season for me, there have been a lot of doubts, a lot of worries, but I’m here,” the 28-year-old Italian admitted.
“I have faced many challenges over the last two years, but I’ve been working hard for these world championships.”
Since streaking to that surprise gold at the Tokyo Olympics in an European record of 9.80sec, Jacobs was forced to pull out of last year’s world champs in Eugene and is yet to face Kerley since their clash in the Japanese capital in 2021.
“There’s been this online discussion between me and Fred,” Jacobs said of social media banter about a potential run-off.
“But of course there’s mutual respect, we really respect each other.
“I’m sure it’ll be a really tough challenge but I want to remain focused on myself, go day by day, negotiate the semis into the final and do my best when I reach the final.”
‘Very open challenge’
The 100m remains very open, featuring a field also including the likes of Noah Lyles, Anguilla-born Briton Zharnel Hughes, Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala and Botswanan Letsile Tebogo, with arguably all of them capable of topping the podium.
“I consider myself to be part of this game (between favourites), but my season has not gone as I planned it,” Jacobs said.
“If I had run the times I had planned, I could have run better than them. It’s a very open challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
Jacobs insisted he was in good shape, but did not want to be drawn on rating himself.
“I really had to work hard to remain focused on these world championships as it’s the only medal I’m still missing in my collection.
“I don’t want to rate myself on a 1-10 scale,” he said. “I’m training well, I want to find the adrenalin that makes me want to fight.
“I know eyes are focusing on me because I’m a reigning Olympic champion, it’s a heavy burden... but I prefer to be the favourite because they consider my way of competing, it’s a plus, a new energy, an added value.”
Jacobs is one part of a band of sprinters who will feature in a Netflix documentary in the same style the streaming service produced on Formula One and the Tour de France.
“It’s an incredible idea to be a member of this group, over the shortest distance and fastest time, it allows the audience to see behind the scenes and other aspects of the life of an athlete.
“It’s a very good project because it will help athletics reach more people, it’s not only focused on the Olympic Games and world championships, but follows athletes in other competitions, it will help create more fans and get them more involved in athletes’ lives.”
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