Noah Lyles

Noah, Josephus Lyles have unfinished business after record-breaking sprint season

Noah Lyles, Josephus Lyles
Getty
0 Comments

CHARLOTTE — Brothers Noah and Josephus Lyles each hit a milestone in the 200m this past summer. Each has a clear next step in mind.

Noah, the elder at age 25, is (in a change) now talking openly about wanting to break Usain Bolt‘s world record of 19.19 seconds. He will do it if he improves his personal best by a similar amount of time as he did in 2022.

At the world championships in July, Noah prevailed in 19.31 seconds, a personal best by 19 hundredths and an American record. He is now the third-fastest man in history. Bolt’s world record is 12 hundredths of a second away. Eye blinks can be quicker, but it is still a significant gap. Since worlds, Noah repeated a desire to break Bolt’s record.

Noah, speaking before an event for the brothers’ foundation last week, was asked if he had any hesitation about voicing that ambition given there will be doubters. He ruminated.

“There’s like 150 different ways I can go about [answering] this. I’m trying to figure out which one I want to do,” he said. “It kind of really all boils down to: I don’t care what other people think.”

Recall a back-and-forth between Noah and the retired Bolt in 2019. That summer, Noah ran 19.65 at a Diamond League meet in Paris — breaking Bolt’s meet record. In Noah’s Instagram story that day, an image showed him making a shushing motion with the caption, “Bolt who?” That drew a reaction from Bolt. Noah was asked often that summer about Bolt’s world record. Rather than take aim at 19.19, Noah said coyly that he had special things planned.

Noah did not run 19.65 or faster for another two years, until after taking bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. But his 2022 was arguably the deepest 200m season in history. Noah went faster than 19.65 on six occasions. Bolt is the only other man to break 19.65 more than three times over a career, and he never did it more than three times in one year (In his prime, Bolt did not race the 200m as often as Noah did this year).

In summary: Noah is back and better than ever, boosted by a more efficient start out of the blocks and improved mental health, having worked with therapist Diana McNab. Bolt was 23 when he ran 19.19. Michael Johnson was 28 when he ran his personal best of 19.32. Noah turns 26 on July 18, one month before next summer’s world championships in Budapest.

“When you enter a sport, why shouldn’t your dream be to achieve the best that is ever possible?” Noah said. “To anybody who says to themselves, ‘A record is not going to be broken,’ look at all the previous world records. All broken. And even when I get this record, it’s going to be broken. And that’s OK.”

In addition to chasing Bolt in the 200m, Noah plans to reintroduce the 100m into his major event program. He has a bye into the world championships in the 200m, so expect him to run the 100m at next summer’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where three world spots are at stake.

Noah previously planned to double in the 100m and 200m for the Tokyo Olympics but did not find his rhythm before the Olympic Trials, where he placed seventh in the 100m, one week before making his first Olympic team in the 200m. Only one man has won both the 100m and the 200m at a global championship in the last 15 years: Bolt in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

“We were planning on going after [the double] this year, but just a few complications,” Noah said. “Mostly, [needing to work on] my start was making that very difficult. We decided to focus mainly on the 200m, and I’m glad we did because we were able to accomplish two things — winning the world championship in the 200m again, and then actually getting a better start. So now that I’ve secured both of those things, I now feel I have the freedom to go and try and bring the same success to the 100m.”

Josephus, the younger brother by 369 days, had a breakout 2022 of his own. He went under 20 seconds in the 200m for the first time and, had he not been running into a headwind, would have broken 10 seconds in the 100m for the first time.

Josephus also made his first world championships team, albeit in unusual circumstances. He was fifth in the 200m final at nationals, where the top four earned spots at worlds. Josephus, who had a two-day bout with COVID a week before nationals, left the Hayward Field track believing that he missed the team by six hundredths of a second.

Then he got a call from Noah, who saw Josephus’ name on a board at team processing and told his younger brother to hurry over to get fitted for national team clothes. Turns out, Josephus was named to the 4x100m relay pool, unexpectedly given he didn’t run the 100m at nationals. Micah Williams, who was fourth in the 100m at nationals, was not named to the team (no reason was given).

At worlds, the U.S. ran the same four men in 4x100m qualifying and the final, meaning that Josephus and Kyree King, another relay pool-only runner, didn’t get to race. Josephus left bittersweet.

“All I know is I’m not going to be in the relay pool again [without qualifying in an individual event],” he said. “I’m going to make the team [individually] so I don’t have to worry about that.”

Josephus and Noah traded stories about their seasons after taking an eight-hour road trip from Central Florida to Charlotte, where they lived for five years growing up. They sat for an interview on bleachers inside the Sugaw Creek Recreation Center, where they planned to show off their medals, give away signed spikes and meet and greet more than 200 people, including a question-and-answer session with kids.

The foundation, launched in late 2020, supports children who want to be involved in track and field.

“We’re still in the early stages,” Noah said.

Next: the brothers go back to their native D.C. area, where they will be inducted into their high school district’s athletics hall of fame next week. Later in October is what Noah calls an “End of Season Bash” in Bermuda. There is plenty to celebrate, and plenty to look forward to.

Before rising from the bleachers, the brothers were asked what will make 2023 a success on the track.

“If I go out there and I have fun, everything else will fall into place,” Josephus said.

Noah joked that Josephus stole his answer.

“I got a lot of success this year, but I can’t let that overrun everything,” Noah said. “I want to make sure that I use that energy to fuel doing even more into this [next] year. I know if I do that. the world is mine.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Noah Lyles talks world record goal as Michael Johnson drops into interview

0 Comments

Noah Lyles said he planned to run 19.10 seconds in the 200m final at July’s world championships, which would have broken Usain Bolt‘s world record. He was plenty satisfied with clocking a personal-best 19.31 seconds to break Michael Johnson‘s American record, though.

Lyles reflected on worlds in Eugene, Oregon, in an interview for the monthly Olympic and Paralympic show “Chasing Gold: Paris 2024,” which debuts on NBC on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET (and will be available on Peacock starting Monday).

“I was planning to run 19.10,” Lyles said of a time that is nine hundredths faster than Bolt’s world record from the 2009 World Championships. “That’s what me and my therapist had in our hearts. I was very much on the idea of I want to give myself a goal to chase that’s so out there. Even if I don’t get to that goal, I’ll have obliterated whatever is behind me.”

Lyles won by a distant .46 of a second in an American medals sweep. He picked off Johnson’s American record, his famous 1996 Olympic gold-medal run in golden shoes, by one hundredth.

Johnson was a surprise drop-in to the “Chasing Gold” interview.

“I knew when he came off the curve that this was going to be special,” said Johnson, who was at Hayward Field that night commentating for the BBC. “When you think about Noah, you’re not thinking necessarily about American records, you think about world records. … I was thinking, is he on world record pace?”

In addition to Bolt’s record, Lyles had something else on his mind in the day leading up to the final: his celebration. In his room in Eugene, he practiced putting on a team USA jersey and tearing it from the chest.

“I didn’t want to rip it and get half-ripped, and here I am with a half-ripped jersey looking all weak on TV,” he joked.

Lyles finished his season by winning the Diamond League Final in Zurich, Switzerland, last week, completing an undefeated 200m campaign. In all, Lyles ran 19.67 or faster a total of seven times in 2022, and 19.52 or faster a total of three times, both the most for any sprinter in one year in history.

Next up: a bye into the August 2023 World Championships in Budapest.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Noah Lyles ends season with another historic 200m time at Diamond League Final

0 Comments

Noah Lyles ended his season by winning the Diamond League Final 200m in 19.52 seconds in Zurich, Switzerland, giving him five of the 13 fastest times in history.

Usain Bolt has four of the 13 fastest times, including the world record 19.19. Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s American record in repeating as world champion in July in 19.31. In all, Lyles ran 19.67 or faster a total of seven times in 2022, and 19.52 or faster a total of three times in 2022, both the most for any sprinter in one year in history.

His 19.52 (into a headwind) matches the 12th-best time in history, his own from winning last year’s Olympic Trials. Lyles rebounded from the disappointment of an Olympic bronze medal to run the world’s fastest time of 2021 after the Tokyo Games, then put together arguably the strongest season of 200m sprinting in history this year.

Lyles, 25, has since worlds spoken openly about chasing the world record.

“Once I hold onto a feeling, I don’t let it go,” Lyles told World Athletics. “I was able to capture some amazing feelings this year. Especially in the start, the first 100 meters, the first 20 meters, the first 10 meters. Things I’ve never done before.”

Full Zurich results are here.

In other events Thursday, American javelin thrower Kara Winger earned the biggest international victory of her career in the last meet of her career. Winger, a 36-year-old, four-time Olympian, threw 64.98 meters to distance world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia by 1.26 meters.

Winger, the world silver medalist, earned a spot at the 2023 Worlds with her victory, should she reconsider retirement. Diamond League Final champions earn byes into next year’s worlds unless they’re from the same country as the 2022 World champion who already earned a bye.

“I have to see how I feel, but at this point, I do not change my decision about my retirement,” Winger said, according to meet organizers. “I just wanted to have a good time, and it turned out to be the best season of my life.”

Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce notched a record-extending seventh sub-10.70 performance of the year to win the 100m. Fraser-Pryce, who earned a fifth world 100m title in July, clocked 10.65 into a headwind, edging countrywoman Shericka Jackson by .16. No other woman has broken 10.70 more than four times over a career.

Americans were fifth (Aleia Hobbs, 11.03), sixth (TeeTee Terry, 11.10) and seventh (Sha’Carri Richardson, 11.13) in the seven-woman race.

ON HER TURF: Fraser-Pryce’s ‘divine intervention’ for Diamond League Final

American Trayvon Bromell earned the biggest international 100m victory of his career, clocking 9.94. The field did not include the countrymen who shared the world championship podium with him — gold medalist Fred Kerley and silver medalist Marvin Bracy-Williams.

Olympic discus champion Valarie Allman repeated as Diamond League champ, clinching a spot at the 2023 World Championships. Allman took bronze at this summer’s worlds.

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who was upset for the world 1500m title in July, won the 1500m in Zurich in 3:29.02, the world’s best time this year. Surprise world champion Jake Wightman of Great Britain was not in the field. Ingebrigtsen now has byes into both the 1500m and 5000m at the 2023 Worlds.

Other reigning world champions who prevailed: American Grant Holloway (110m hurdles, 13.02), Tobi Amusan of Nigeria (100m hurdles, 12.29), Shericka Jackson of Jamaica (200m, 21.80), Alison dos Santos of Brazil (400m hurdles, 46.98), Emmanuel Korir of Kenya (800m, 1:43.26), Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1500m, 4:00.44), Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco (3000m steeplechase, 8:07.67), Mondo Duplantis of Sweden (pole vault, 6.07 meters), Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela (triple jump, 15.28) and Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia (discus, 67.10).

The track and field season gives way to road racing starting with Sunday’s 5th Avenue Mile, live on NBC and Peacock at 12 p.m. ET.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!