• Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Media Partner
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Supplier
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Supplier
  • Sponsors BannerWorld Athletics Supplier

Previews16 Mar 2022

Jacobs targets world 60m title in Belgrade to go with Olympic gold


Italian sprinter Marcell Jacobs (© Getty Images)

Having shot from international sprint novice to Olympic champion in 2021, Marcell Jacobs stands to make track and field history if he can follow up his surprise 100m victory in Tokyo with 60m gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22.

Admittedly, it is a rather large if, given the presence in the field of Christian Coleman, the US sprinter who arrives in Serbia as the defending champion, world indoor 60m record-holder, 2022 world leader and reigning 100m world champion outdoors.

Still, Jacobs showed in Tokyo seven months ago that he is capable of rising to a challenge, and snatching the hand of opportunity. And, should the Italian manage to do so again at global level, he would become the first reigning Olympic 100m champion to claim the world indoor 60m crown. (Maurice Greene and Justin Gatlin both struck world indoor gold the year before their Olympic successes).

It was victory in the 60m final at the European Indoor Championships in Torun in March last year that launched Jacobs on the breakthrough path that took him through the 10-second barrier and onwards to Olympic glory in a European record 9.80 on the upward trajectory of his 2021 outdoor season.

The Texas-born former long jumper maintained that form with four meeting victories in the 2022 indoor season (6.51 in Berlin, 6.49 in Lodz, 6.50 in Lievin and 6.55 at the Italian Championships in Ancona), before suffering the first false start disqualification of his career in the Belgrade Indoor Meeting at the Stark Arena on 7 March.

Barring that setback, having won his heat on the world indoor track in 6.56, including preliminaries and finals Jacobs has won nine out of nine 60m races that he has started and finished this year – making it 14 in a row since he was pipped by Mike Rodgers in Lodz in February last year.

In the squat figure of Coleman, however, the Olympic 100m champ faces a rival who has won his last 20 races at the distance (heats included).

Coleman won the 2018 world indoor title in Birmingham, England, in 6.37, a championship record. That season he set a world record 6.34 at altitude in Albuquerque and now sits jointly on top of the 2022 world list with the 6.45 that took him to the US title in Spokane last month. Bahamian Terrence Jones clocked 6.45 in Lubbock, Texas, in January but is not on the entry list for Belgrade.

Should Coleman prevail, he would be only the second back-to-back winner of the title. Canada’s Bruny Surin triumphed in Toronto in 1993 and in Barcelona in 1995.

Apart from Coleman, Jones and Jacobs, 2014 runner-up Marvin Bracy is the only other man to have ducked under 6.50 in 2022. He equalled his PB with 6.48 as runner-up to Coleman at the US Championships and is likely to be contending for another podium placing.

Also look out for Emmanuel Matadi. The 30-year-old, an African 200m bronze medallist six years ago, has rattled off Liberian records of 6.58, 6.56, 6.55 and 6.52 in the past two months but has raced heavily on the US circuit. 

The African challenge will be further bolstered by Arthur Cisse, who equalled his Ivorian record of 6.53 in Metz last month. He missed the cut for the final in Birmingham four years ago by a tantalising 0.001.

The field also includes Rikkoi Brathwaite of the British Virgin Isles, runner up in the NCAA Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, last weekend in a lifetime best 6.52.

Simon Turnbull for World Athletics