Lamont Marcell Jacobs has been the centre of attention in Italy ever since his 100m and 4x100m gold medals at last summer’s Olympic Games but, despite all the glamourous invitations and his picture appearing on the front cover of a myriad of magazine, he still insisted that he has not let the adulation go to his head.
"I remember when I used to watch the press conferences, having not being invited. I'm happy I've been invited now, the tables have turned," Jacobs told the assembled media at the traditional pre-event press conference ahead of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday (17).
“Yes [during the winter] I've taken time off and I've enjoyed every single moment. The Formula One invitations, in particular, as it is one of my greatest passions. To be able to be on the grid ahead of all of them [the drivers] and then to meet the Italian Prime Minister are among the many opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I'm conscious of that, and those experiences were very beautiful.
“However, I am very focused on my career. I decided to cut my outdoor season short last summer because I have a very long season this year. I am very proud that I have remained grounded and focused on myself.”
This time last year, Jacobs was the surprise 60m gold medallist at the European Athletics Indoor Championships 12 months ago, running an Italian record of 6.47 in the final, but his sensational breakthrough in Tokyo last summer confirmed it was no fluke.
“What happened last year, winning the Olympic medals was very important for my own development and my own growth, but I have never lost the focus. I was very proud that I was able to achieve those medals because I wanted to prove to myself what I was capable of achieving."
#atletica ???? Jacobs: “Coleman favorito n.1, vince chi sbaglia meno”— Atletica Italiana (@atleticaitalia) March 17, 2022
⭐️ @crazylongjumper tra le star della conferenza stampa @WorldAthletics ai Mondiali indoor di Belgrado: “Qui nel migliore dei modi e con i piedi per terra”
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However, one thing not in Jacobs’ agenda when he competes on Saturday is the European 60m record of 6.42 which has been held by Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers since 2009.
“Last year, I set the 100m European record twice. However, as far as the 60m is concerned, I think it's a little harder for me [to set a world record] because of the way I run.
“But nothing is impossible with the hard work that I've put in in training, and with the competition from other sprinters here. However, I will not run for the record here in Belgrade. I will run for a position.
“I have been running for time all winter and it's actually made me a little bit tense so, this time around, I'm going to run as relaxed as possible and not think about the time. However, I have many seasons ahead of me to be thinking about that moment.
"I compete in an event [the 60m] where the one who wins is the one who makes the least mistakes," he added.
As well as a gold medal Jacobs also wants to banish the memories of when he last competed at a major championships in the Serbian capital, the 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
"I don't have the best memories of that because I was among the favourites but bowed out in the qualification round," reflected the Italian.
"It was a very, very difficult time for me, in my personal life and on the track. Following that I changed from long jump to sprint and now I'm a double Olympic gold medallist in the 100m and 4x100m relay. Everything happens for a reason."