Tamberi, Jacobs aim to drive Italy to top of Euro medals table

athletics06 June 2024 14:24| © AFP
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Marcell Jacobs © Getty Images

Italy's world high jump champion Gianmarco Tamberi and sprint star Marcell Jacobs headline a strong Italian team they say should aim to top the medals table when the European athletics championships starts on Friday at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

"My team is really well-prepared to do some crazy things at these championships," said squad skipper Tamberi, who famously shared Olympic gold in Tokyo with Qatari friend and rival Mutaz Barshim.

Italy finished seventh at the last Euros in Munich in 2022, with three golds, two silvers and six bronzes in an 11-medal haul

Tamberi, however, has not had the ideal run-in to the championships on home soil, a knee problem forcing him to miss what would have been his planned season opener at the Oslo Diamond League.

In fact, the championships will be the Italian's first competitive outing of the season.

"There's a lot of pressure," Tamberi admitted. "My focus is on the performance, to start the season with good confidence.

"The main goal for me is to jump high," he added, describing his knee problem combined with some mental fatigue in May as a "total disaster".

Tamberi said he felt "much better and there are positive vibes again".

Alongside the high jumper, key to the Italian team's lofty goal of topping the medals table will be Jacobs, who stunned the world when he scorched to 100m gold at the Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics.

The Italian set an European record of 9.80sec to seal victory, quickly bagging a second gold as part of the 4x100m relay.

He followed that success up by winning the 2022 world indoor 60m title in Belgrade and the European 100m gold later the same year in Munich.

A series of injuries ensued, but Jacobs has shown his resolve and tellingly changed coach in Olympic year, moving to the United States to work under Rana Reider.


The question is whether Jacobs, like Tamberi, is fit enough to deliver in Rome, with both athletes eyeing the July 26-August 11 Paris Olympics.

The last time Jacobs ran a sub-10sec time was winning European gold last time out in Munich, in 9.95sec.

His fastest time this season is 10.03sec, set last week when finishing fourth at the Oslo Diamond League meet.

"You have to understand how important it is competing in this city," Jacobs said. "Rome is where I learned everything, it's where it started for me.

"I want to give back something this weekend."

His decision to change from Paolo Camossi to Reider as coach, he said, had had implications.

"When you change everything in training it’s difficult, I've had to open my eyes on many things.

"I learned I had to change many things and start from scratch, but I'm sure this weekend we can do great things.

"I can’t wait to compete in front of all my people. There's a lot of pressure here, to be competing as Olympic and European champion."

Jacobs's prospects of emerging victorious in the 100m final on Saturday have been bolstered in recent days by the withdrawals of the british duo of Zharnel Hughes and Jeremiah Azu, the 100m silver and bronze medallists respectively in Munich.

"Our goal is to arrive at top of rankings," said Jacobs, with an onlooking Tamberi nodding enthusiastically.

"Then there a couple of months to go before Paris and the Olympics, there is time to fine-tune things."