World’s fastest men exchange barbs on social media

Marcell Jacobs, Fred Kerley

Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs, the Olympic 100m champion, and American Fred Kerley, the Olympic silver medalist and world 100m champion, appear to have developed a rivalry off the track.

Last month, Kerley was asked on the “Sprint Culture” video podcast about Jacobs’ performance at the recent European Indoor Championships. Jacobs was runner-up in the 60m in 6.50 seconds, ranking him seventh in the world this year. Jacobs won the world indoor 60m title last year in 6.41 seconds.

“Indoor is indoor,” said Kerley, who last raced indoors in 2021. “The real dogs come and play outdoor.”

Kerley was then asked if Jacobs is “a real dog.”

“I don’t think so,” Kerley replied. “I’m just going to be truthful.”

Kerley then said, without naming the specific report, that Jacobs was quoted as saying that he’s not worried about any of the Americans who swept the 100m medals at last summer’s world championships: Kerley, silver medalist Marvin Bracy-Williams and bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell.

Jacobs withdrew from last year’s worlds before the semifinals due to leg injuries.

Jacobs appeared to respond with recent Instagram stories captioned “The lion doesn’t turn around when a small dog barks” and “Easy run today so as not to scare small dogs.”

The back-and-forth continued Monday after Jacobs posted another Instagram story, this time an image of him edging Kerley at the Tokyo Olympic 100m finish line.

“Whenever you want and wherever you want, but remember that when it mattered more it ended like this,” the caption read.

Kerley then tweeted at the account for the Diamond League, the sport’s premier international circuit, saying “make it happen I want 1v1 no one else just him. Him alone.”

Kerley also reposted one of Jacobs’ Instagram training clips, but wrote over it with a Daffy Duck and the caption “Ya the best at ducking,” implying that Jacobs avoids racing the world’s best sprinters.

The earliest that Kerley and Jacobs could meet in a Diamond League 100m is in Rabat, Morocco, on May 28.

However, it can be hard financially to get the reigning Olympic and world 100m champions to go head-to-head outside of global championships given the appearance fees athletes of that caliber typically take in and, sometimes, the reluctance of one or both to risk defeat.

Kerley quote-tweeted a tweet that asked how much it would take to get him and Jacobs to face off: “Talk to the agent if you don’t got 6 figures plus we ain’t talk,” he tweeted.

Since Tokyo, Jacobs and Kerley have not gone head-to-head, but Jacobs was injured for much of the 2022 season.

Marcell Jacobs, Fred Kerley

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback

Elina Svitolina French Open

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. France’s top player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, or 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova is next.

Her husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Svitolina watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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Marcell Jacobs still sidelined, misses another race with Fred Kerley

Marcell Jacobs

Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy will miss another scheduled clash with world 100m champion Fred Kerley, withdrawing from Friday’s Diamond League meet in Florence.

Jacobs, 28, has not recovered from the nerve pain that forced him out of last Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, according to Italy’s track and field federation.

In his absence, Kerley’s top competition will be fellow American Trayvon Bromell, the world bronze medalist, and Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, the world’s fastest man this year at 9.84 seconds. Kerley beat both of them in Rabat.

The Florence Diamond League airs live on Peacock on Friday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Jacobs has withdrawn from six scheduled head-to-heads with Kerley dating to May 2022 due to a series of health issues since that surprise gold in Tokyo.

Kerley, primarily a 400m sprinter until the Tokyo Olympic year, became the world’s fastest man in Jacobs’ absence. He ran a personal best 9.76 seconds, the world’s best time of 2022, at last June’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Then he led a U.S. sweep of the medals at July’s worlds.

Jacobs’ next scheduled race is a 100m at the Paris Diamond League on June 9. Kerley is not in that field, but world 200m champion Noah Lyles is.

The last time the reigning Olympic and world men’s 100m champions met in a 100m was the 2012 London Olympic final between Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. From 2013 to 2017, Bolt held both titles, then retired in 2017 while remaining reigning Olympic champion until Jacobs’ win in Tokyo, where Kerley took silver.

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