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Marcell Jacobs to miss anticipated race with Fred Kerley

Marcell Jacobs

Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy reacts after the men’s 60m heats at the Lievin leg of the World Athletics Indoor Tour in Lievin, France, Feb. 15, 2023. (Photo by Sebastien Courdji/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima

Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy will miss the first of two scheduled races against world 100m champion Fred Kerley, withdrawing before Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, with what his rep said was light sciatica.

“I am forced to skip the debut 100 meters and the first face off with Kerley in Rabat, which I was really looking forward to, due to a lombo sacral nerve block that I’m working on resolving in the short term,” Jacobs said in a statement. “It’s the result of a misstep and not an injury, which does however keep me from competing in Morocco. I’m in strong physical shape technical and ready for a great outdoor season. The challenge is only postponed.”

Jacobs and Kerley are still scheduled for another head-to-head at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on June 2, should Jacobs’ treatment solve the problem in time.

The last time the reigning Olympic and world men’s 100m champions met in a race 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’ surprise win in Tokyo, where Kerley took silver.

Jacobs then missed most of last season, including the world championships, due to physical health issues.

Kerley’s biggest competition on Sunday 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.

Sunday’s meet airs live on CNBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock from 2-4 p.m. ET.

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