Noah Lyles has said his fellow sprinters may be in trouble this season. The world 200m champion opened it by nearly grabbing a win in his complementary event, the 100m, at the USATF Bermuda Games on Saturday.
Lyles couldn’t quite track down surprise winner Jerome Blake of Canada in the final.
Blake, who ranked 46th in the world last year with a 10.06-second personal best, prevailed in 10.38 seconds into a hefty 5.6 meter-per-second headwind. Lyles was third in 10.39, registering the same time to the thousandth of a second as second-place Erriyon Knighton.
“Of course conditions aren’t what you wanted, but I was just here to catch vibes, to run against some fast people, you know, to have some fun,” Lyles told Lewis Johnson on NBC.
USATF BERMUDA GAMES: Full Results
Lyles began his outdoor season expressing confidence.
“These practices that I’ve been putting down consistently, there hasn’t been a Noah that’s practiced like this before,” Lyles said an interview published last month. “I scare people with the times that I put down in practice.”
None of Saturday’s times will put fear into anybody because athletes faced headwinds more than 10 miles per hour. Lyles’ 100m personal best is 9.86.
So his race is better measured by how he fared against the field. Lyles became a bigger favorite after countrymen Kenny Bednarek, Ronnie Baker and Marvin Bracy withdrew before the meet.
Though Blake won, the most interesting foe was Knighton, who broke Usain Bolt junior records last year en route to a fourth-place finish at the Olympics. Lyles and Knighton will likely be battling for the 200m title at the world championships in July.
Lyles began last year bidding to compete in the 100m and 200m at the Olympics, then placed seventh in the 100m at Olympic Trials.
In his favored 200m, he arrived in Tokyo as the fastest man in the world for the year. He took bronze, tearing up afterward discussing mental health struggles.
“A big problem last year was I didn’t have enough time to really activate my body,” Lyles said earlier this year. “And by the time I did, it was already Prefontaine [Classic, a meet after the Olympics where Lyles ran 19.52 seconds, the world’s top time in two years]. And I was running fast, but I was exhausted mentally.”
Lyles made it a point in the just-completed indoor season to work on his start, studying rivals Christian Coleman and Trayvon Bromell. He twice lowered his personal best in the indoor 60m (each time by .01 of a second).
“I’m very blessed right now because last year it was the opposite,” Lyles said in the interview published last month. “I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere close to where I used to be, and now I’m at a point where I’ve never been.”
Lyles has two more months to gear up for the season’s biggest meets, starting with June’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where world championships spots are at stake. Lyles already has a bye onto the team in the 200m as reigning world champion, but he will likely need to place top three in the 100m if he wants to double up.
“I thought I would have had a gold medal [in the Olympics] by now,” Lyles said earlier this year. “That’s all right. We’re going to keep it pushing, gives me more drive for these coming years.”
In other events Saturday, U.S. Olympian Teahna Daniels won the women’s 100m in 11.45 seconds into a 5.2 m/s headwind and rain, holding off Olympic 200m bronze medalist Gabby Thomas by .04. Daniels ranked sixth in the world last season with a best time of 10.83.
World champion Grant Holloway chose not to race the 110m hurdles due to the high headwinds, which are more dangerous for hurdlers. Veteran Shane Brathwaite of Barbados won in 13.78 seconds.
Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.67 seconds, the world’s fastest time this year despite a 2.5 m/s headwind.
Olympic men’s 400m champions Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas and Kirani James of Grenada also scored wins. Gardiner, the reigning 400m gold medalist, rallied to bag the 200m in 20.79. James, the 2012 gold medalist, took the 400m in 45.63.
The track and field season continues next Saturday with the USATF Golden Games at the Mt. SAC Relays in California, live on CNBC.
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