Noah Lyles

Noah Lyles, safety first on 2021 Olympics, trains near woods, dog walkers

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Noah Lyles looks at life as an adventure right now. The world 200m champion is finishing an EP, playing Dead by Daylight and squeezing in some unusual training.

Lyles’ sprint cadre in Central Florida is no longer practicing on the track amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the pack of about 24 athletes was split into groups of six to train at different times at a park.

“Not a lot we can do, just kind of a little bit of running on the grass,” Lyles said, noting the Olympic hopefuls share the space with dog walkers. “It’s not so much an open field. It’s more like random spots that are just open in the woods.

“It’s all about an hour or two, and then go back, quarantine, but it’s a little bit of something to not go a little crazy.”

The world’s other top sprinter, world 100m champion Christian Coleman, is working out alone in Georgia, hopping the fence at a high school, according to Reuters.

Lyles and Coleman were to face off in the 100m and 200m at the Olympic Trials in June and, if they made the U.S. team, the Tokyo Games in August. Tuesday’s announcement that the Olympics will now be in 2021 delayed all that.

Lyles has already been waiting nearly four years since placing fourth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials 200m in a national high school record. He’s going to have to be more patient.

“Safety first,” Lyles told NBC Olympic primetime host Mike Tirico. “The last thing we want is for anybody to get sick. I can train for another year, but if the world goes through a crisis and everybody gets sick, we can’t even have the Olympics forever.”

Lyles is known for his varied interests. The man with ICON tattoed on his side is passionate about Dragon Ball Z, legos and designing clothing. It’s helping him get by these days.

“Sometimes, just drawing and painting can be a really good way to keep your mind off of the stresses of what’s going on in the world,” Lyles said.

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Usain Bolt on Kobe Bryant, fatherhood and Tyreek Hill’s Olympic outlook

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MIAMI — The world’s fastest man sauntered into the back room of a Miami art studio that had been converted into a Gatorade pop-up for Super Bowl weekend.

He opened a bottle of Bolt24, Gatorade’s new off-the-field drink for the 24/7 athlete, an endorsement Usain Bolt takes literally.

“Last night I went to bed at, maybe, like 5 [a.m.],” he said the Saturday morning before Super Bowl Sunday, adding that outside of his native Jamaica, he believes the party scene in Miami is second only to London.

Bolt fully reclined and rested his legs in a NormaTec compression therapy device while spending the next 20 minutes discussing a wide range of topics with NBC Sports.

The retired sprinter recently announced he is going to be a father in a social post.

He does not know the gender of his child yet and declined to reveal the due date.

“I’m excited, but I’m nervous,” said the 33-year-old. “I’ve always been a fun guy, I’ve always been that person. But should I be that person and make my girlfriend [Kasi Bennett] be the bad guy? Those are the questions I’m asking, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bolt, who has two siblings and eventually wants three children, will not encourage his offspring to pursue sprinting.

“That’s going to be hard for my kid,” he said. “If they want to do it, I’m fine with it. But initially I’m going to say don’t do it, ’cause I know the pressure that will come along with it.”

Bolt has always wanted to have a son to follow in his footsteps. But after watching ESPN anchor Elle Duncan deliver an emotional tribute about Kobe Bryant’s pride in being a #GirlDad, Bolt is now hoping for a daughter.

“I could see in his eyes how much he loved his girls,” Bolt said. “I would love to have that feeling.”

Bryant’s untimely death hit Bolt hard. Bolt was driving when he heard the news and immediately pulled over. He completely stopped checking social media. He tried to watch the Lakers’ tribute, but changed the channel after five minutes because he teared up.

Bolt had at least three significant interactions with Bryant. During an NBA All-Star Weekend, Bryant paused a conversation with Bolt to fetch his daughters for sprinting advice and a photo.

Bolt believed he competed with Kobe’s Mamba Mentality.

“I wouldn’t say I was dedicated as Kobe,” Bolt said, “but when I competed, I went out there no matter what was going on and was focused.”

Being in Miami, the conversation eventually turned to football.

Bolt laughed when asked about Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver who said he is serious about trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic track and field team. Hill, who reached the top in-game speed of any NFL player in 2019, was a world-class sprinter in high school but is seven years removed from his track days.

“No, there’s no chance,” Bolt said, pointing out that Hill would have to run the 200m three times over three days at June’s U.S. Olympic Trials. “A lot of people think it’s about one-off runs, but it’s rounds that really show who you are and the amount of work you do. So I think no, he wouldn’t make the team.”

Bolt, a longtime Packers fan, reiterated he would try out for the team as a wide receiver if Aaron Rodgers called.

“I think my hands are good,” he said, “and I know I’ve got the speed.”

But Bolt, who had a brief professional soccer career, would not listen if the MLS or another soccer league called.

“I think I’m past the soccer stage,” he said. “I tried it, and it was OK, but it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”

Bolt still follows track closely.

He said it was “nerve-racking” watching the 2019 World Championships as the Jamaican men failed to earn a 100m or 200m medal for the first time since 2003.

“I actually missed it,” he admitted. “I was like, ‘Aw crap, did I do the right thing? Did I retire too soon?’”

But he has no regrets about retiring in 2017.

“You question yourself,” he said, “but I know I made the right decision.”

Bolt wonders why the Jamaican men stopped dominating the sprints since he retired.

“Hey, if you know, tell me,” he said. “But the girls are doing awesome, so that’s a good thing.”

Bolt will be in Tokyo during the Olympics. He has had conversations with television networks, but has not committed. He is excited to go to an Olympics as a fan, and hopes to experience swimming and an Argentina soccer match, in addition to track.

Bolt predicted a U.S. sprinter will win the Olympic men’s 100m title for the first time since 2004.

“From my standpoint right now, Christian Coleman has got the Olympics won already,” Bolt said. “He’s fearless. He’s really fearless.”

Yet Bolt has learned to never overlook Justin Gatlin, who finished second to Coleman at the 2019 World Championships but will be 38 in Tokyo.

“My greatest competitor was Justin Gatlin,” Bolt said. “For the last five years of my career, he kept me on my toes, and I will always respect him for that.”

Bolt was less confident predicting the Olympic 200m champion.

“I think [reigning 200m world champion Noah Lyles] could be beaten,” Bolt said. “In a one-off run, no. But through the rounds, he kind of didn’t impress me as much.”

Since he will be in Tokyo, Bolt was asked whether he could — hypothetically — lace up racing spikes and advance out of a heat to an Olympic semifinal in the 100m or 200m.

“For sure, no problem,” he said without hesitation. “In both.”

Does he still have enough speed to advance from an Olympic semifinal to a final?

“I think over 200m, I could make it to the final as the last, last guy,” Bolt predicted. “But in the 100m, I don’t think so.”

Both scenarios are purely hypothetical, since the deadline to unretire for a 2020 Olympic bid has passed. Retired stars like Bolt must re-enter the drug-testing pool six months before they are allowed to compete. Track’s international governing body confirmed that Bolt has not done so.

Since Bolt is happily retired from Olympic competition, how does he want to be remembered?

“I want to be remembered as one of the greats,” he said. “My only goal in track and field was to be among the greatest in the world. The Kobe Bryants, the Muhammad Alis, the Peles, the Maradonas. That’s how I want to be remembered. That’s the work I put in. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest sportsmen to ever live.”

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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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