Noah Lyles compares his progress to Bolt’s and talks about anime-infused celebrations

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A supremely confident Noah Lyles spoke Sunday on Football Night in America about his place in track and field’s post-Usain Bolt sprinting world.

“We talk about Usain Bolt,” Lyles said. “I’m faster than him when he was my age, so let’s see what happens.”

In the 100m, Bolt was faster at this age, running a 9.76 more than three months before his 22nd birthday and then a 9.72 a couple of weeks later. Lyles set his personal best of 9.86 earlier this year, two months before his 22nd birthday.

But in the 200m, while Bolt’s four fastest times are all ahead of Lyles’ best of 19.50, the first of those was one day before his 22nd birthday — the then-record 19.30 at the 2008 Olympics. The others were later in his career. Lyles ran a 19.50 a couple of weeks before his 22nd birthday earlier this year in Lausanne. Bolt’s only other times faster than that came later in his career, so Lyles’ boast is correct at that distance.

Lyles expects to have some crowd support next year in Tokyo because his colorful prerace and postrace antics draw from Japanese culture.

“I’ve got a lot of Japanese followers because I’m a pretty big anime fan, so I’m always showing that on the track,” Lyles said.

While Lyles was tied for the faster 100m time of the year heading into the world championships, he focused on the 200m and didn’t attempt the double. He plans to go for both next year.

The bad news for Lyles in 2020: The Diamond League has cut the 200 from its list of core sports, a decision that surprised him.

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