Who are the Italians, Olympic 4x100m relay champions at the Tokyo Olympics?


It’s the chef’s surprise! Without the Americans, eliminated in the playoffs, a place on the box had actually opened this Friday in the final of the 4x100m relay of the Tokyo Olympics. By shifting everyone, Great Britain or Jamaica had to recover the laurels, Canada and China would play the leftovers. But in the home stretch, it was Filippo Tortu, the promise of the transalpine sprint that has never been so badly named, who sent Italy to the top of the world (in 37 »50, national record), a first.

Moreover, it was a while since Italian sprinters had not participated in a medal ceremony in a major international meeting. We were in 1995 (3rd in the Worlds in the 4x100m with Puggioni, Madonia, Cipolloni and Floris). A time that the four heroes of the day did not know, Marcell Jacobs and Eseosa Fostine Desalu having been born in 1994, while Lorenzo Patta (2000) and Filippo Tortu (1998) were not even part of this world.

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The Italians won this Friday the fourth medal in their history at the Olympic Games in the 4×100 m relay with two bronze medals in 1932 and 1948 and silver in 1936, again for men.

It must be said that with Jacobs’ already surprised 100m title, the Italians had found their leader. Aligned in the opposite straight line, the Olympic champion was placed where the witness made the most progress, a logic when we have in his team a runner flashed in 9 »80, five days ago. But one man does not make a relay and Jacobs was able to count on a quality team, already second at the World Relay Championships last May in Poland.

Tortu, in the footsteps of Christophe Lemaitre

From his debut at the highest level, Filippo Tortu (23) has been compared to Christophe Lemaitre, especially for his slender style and skin color. European champion (2017) and vice-world junior champion (2016) over 100 m, he is the earliest European to break the 10 seconds barrier (9 »99, +0.2, still his record ) in the 100m in 2018, ahead of the French by a few days (20 years and 7 days). Often injured – for example, he broke both arms in a semifinal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2014 while diving on the line – he does not have, for the time being, the record of Lemaitre in individual, despite a place of finalist in 2019 at the Worlds (7th in the 100m) in 2019.

Patta, from football to the track

He is the launching pad for the Italian relay and yet Lorenzo Patta does not have the experience of his teammates. The 21-year-old Italian only started athletics in 2016, when he played football at a good level. Finally, it is only since 2018 that he has devoted himself fully to sprinting under the orders of Francesco Garau in Oristano. In full explosion this season (he went from 10 »31 in 2020 to 10 »13, +1.4), he discovered in Tokyo behind the scenes of a major international championship, his calling card being, until there, occupied by a second place in the 4x100m relay in 2019 at the Euro juniors.

200m specialist, Eseosa Fostine Desalu is the ideal profile when looking for a good turn to pass the baton before the final straight. At 27, the Italian is far from being the best known of the Italian delegation. Of Nigerian origin, Desalu is the second fastest Italian on the U-turn behind the icon Pietro Mennea (Olympic champion in the 200m in 1980), after his 20 »13 (+0.7) from Europe of Berlin (championship where he placed 6th). Based in Parma under Sebastian Bacchieri, he is also a fan of metal and plays the drums in his spare time.

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