Maneskin, an Italian band that won the Eurovision Song Contest in May, was the first sign that this was Italy’s Year.
Then came the European Championship soccer title run in June and July.
To top it all off, on the first day of August, Marcell Jacobs won the 100 meters at the Tokyo Olympics to succeed Usain Bolt as The World’s Fastest Man.
Jacobs crossed the finish line in 9.8 seconds, a personal best. Who was the first to embrace Jacobs? That would be Gianmarco Tamberi, the Italian high jumper who had just won gold in his event in a tie with Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar.
Giovanni Malago, president of the Italian Olympic Committee, called it “the most important day in Italian sport history.”
Malago stated, “We’ve achieved something epic and extraordinary — just as the soccer success — it’s unifying the country.” We’ve won some great victories like the World Cup of Soccer (four times), but the Olympic Games (once again) will be something our grandchildren will remember.
These successes have provided a welcome relief for a country that has spent the last 16 months in different stages of lockdown. Italy was the first country to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It suffered tremendously, especially in spring 2020 when hospitals in northern Italy became overwhelmed with patients. The death toll rose dramatically. Italy has seen more than 128,000 deaths from coronavirus, which is the highest number in the 27-nation European Union.
Malago spoke out about the extraordinary efforts he made to ensure that athletes such as Tamberi and Jacobs were able to continue training in the lockdowns.
The pressure was on for an athletics team that failed to win one medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics 2016.
Malago stated, “And now we’ve got The World’s Fastest Man” and the man who jumps highest. All Italians are proud of Marcello and Jimbo. They are too beautiful for words.
Italy has already won 26 medals across all the sports at the Games, just two more than the Azzurri who took home from Rio. There is still one week to go.
Jacobs was the son of an American father and an Italian mom. Jacobs’ parents divorced when he was six months old. He moved to Italy with his mother and never met his father again. They reconnected about a year ago by phone, as the sprinter tried to learn about his roots.
Jacobs’ mother Vivian Masini watched the race of her son from her northern Italian home, Manerba del Garda.
Masini said that he spoke with Masini between the heats, the semifinal and the final. Masini said that he was getting a massage to get rid of his nerves before the final. He was having a massage to let out his nerves before the final. I told him that he wanted to laugh and that he knew what he was doing.
She said that Marcell is a good man, humble and he does try to hide his bad behavior with tattoos and wild behavior. He’s grounded.”