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Marcell Jacobs, Fred Kerley set a world’s fastest man showdown years in the waiting

Marcell Jacobs, Fred Kerley

Winner Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs (L) celebrates with second-placed USA’s Fred Kerley after the men’s 100m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Italian Marcell Jacobs and American Fred Kerley clashed on social media in recent weeks. Now, the Olympic 100m champion and world 100m champion are set to take their rivalry to the track.

Jacobs and Kerley are entered in the 100m at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on June 2 (live on Peacock).

It would mark the first time that the reigning Olympic gold medalist and reigning world champion in the men’s 100m face off in a 100m since the 2012 Olympic final, when Jamaican Usain Bolt beat countryman Yohan Blake.

It would mark the first time that the reigning Olympic gold medalist and reigning world champion in the men’s 100m face off in a 100m at a meet other than a global championship or trials since 2005, when American Justin Gatlin defeated Kim Collins of Saint Kitts and Nevis, according to

It has been so long since this kind of head-to-head took place because 1) Bolt held both crowns for much of the 2010s and then retired in 2017, 2) it is hard for most non-championship meets to afford to pay appearance fees for the top two athletes in a marquee event and 3) sometimes, top sprinters are reluctant to face each other and risk defeat outside of trials and global championships where they are required to run.

In April, Jacobs and Kerley traded social media jabs with Kerley going as far as to write over a Jacobs training clip on Instagram with a Daffy Duck and the caption “Ya the best at ducking.” That implied that Jacobs avoids racing the world’s best sprinters.

Last week, Kerley said he “will definitely win” if and when he faces Jacobs. He also cautioned, “If he shows up, I don’t know.”

Their last meeting was the Tokyo Olympic final, where Jacobs won in 9.80 seconds, relegating Kerley to silver in 9.84. Both men ran personal bests that night.

Last year, Kerley improved his best to 9.76 and led a U.S. sweep of the men’s 100m medals at the world championships. Jacobs withdrew from last year’s worlds before the semifinals due to leg injuries.

The race in Florence also includes American Trayvon Bromell, who ran the world’s fastest 100m times in 2021 before and after the Olympics, but was eliminated in the semifinals in Tokyo.

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