American 200m Record Breaker Noah Lyles (19.31) Leads Us Sweep At 2022 Worlds.
It would be difficult to imagine a more adverse situation for Noah Lyles to succeed in his first Olympic 200-meter final than the one he found himself in last year when he lined up for his first final in Tokyo.
In the early part of the year, his fitness was lagging behind as he tried to balance the 100 and 200 meters and wean himself from the antidepressants that had caused him to gain weight and sapped his energy earlier in the year.
However, things were beginning to turn around for him. It should be noted that Lyles started the race in lane 3 (after a rookie mistake of letting up in the semifinals).
Lyles has never been a very good turn runner, so he prefers to run on the outside of the pack. This is the only time where there were no spectators in the Olympic Stadium, and Lyles is the most popular figure in the sport of track and field because he makes a habit of asking fans for “Spirit Bombs” before races (a nod to the anime show Dragonball Z).
A Japanese law called COVID-19 even prevented his family from coming due to the fact that they could not enter the country.
American 200m Record Breaker Noah Lyles (19.31) Leads Us Sweep At 2022 Worlds
The 19.74 times that Lyles achieved that night earned him the bronze medal, but it wasn’t the gold he and the rest of the track world had been expecting before the season started.
A shirt, worn by a fan at the NYC Grand Prix earlier this year, contained a picture of Lyles from the 2021 season, which he described as “the worst year Noah.”.
The situation at Hayward Field had changed dramatically on Thursday night when Lyles was scheduled to face off in the 200-meter final at the 2022 World Athletics Championships. This time, he was in lane number six.
Despite the fact that the stands were not crowded, the 10,000+ American fans in attendance were loud enough to send a charge through Lyles prior to the race. In Eugene, he had a large family gathering.
His brother and sister, as well as his mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, uncle, and grandmother, were all on hand.
Lyles took to the stage in Tokyo as if he were running the race he was supposed to run, and as is customary for champions of this sport, he delivered an extraordinary performance to win the race.
After rocketing out of the blocks and running his best 200m time in 26 years, Lyles ran a personal best of 19.31 seconds and erased the name of Michael Johnson as the record holder in American history after 26 years.
Lyles ran the greatest bend of his life on his way off the turn, leapfrogging the field from there to run a personal best of 19.31 seconds and erase Michael Johnson’s name from the record books.
There was so much of a gap on the course – and Lyles was so used to leading by such a large margin off the turn – that he stopped racing humans and started racing ghosts instead.
According to Lyles, he did not know who came in second place. It wasn’t until we walked up to the podium that I learned that Erriyon (Knighton – the bronze medalist, we will talk about him later) had placed third…”
However, Lyles was instead focusing on Johnson’s golden-shoed American record of 19.32 from the 1996 Olympic final, a record that remained unchallenged until tonight.
Johnson’s record stood since the 1996 Olympic final in Atlanta. There was a generation of track fans who had been raised on Johnson’s time for so long that it had become a fundamental principle of the sport for a whole generation.
Michael Johnson holds the 200 meters American record (the only other American to break 19.50, let alone 19.40 before tonight is Knighton, who ran 19.49 earlier this year).
The track is 400 meters, the shot weighs 16 pounds, and the gun is also 16 pounds. Even though he prides himself on the fact that he can stay relaxed, he was racing so fast that even his typically exceptional form started to buckle ever so slightly by the end of the race – and in order to topple a Johnson record, that is what it takes.
In spite of that, he was still able to cross the finish line well ahead of silver and bronze medalists Kenny Bednarek and Erriyon Knighton, stopping the trackside clock at 19.32 to repeat as world champion yet again.
Even so, Lyles could not help but feel a twinge of disappointment in his heart. It is almost as if he was bartering with the track gods, as he stared at the clock, almost willing it to change.
“I was telling [the clock] that I needed some slack, you know, man?” Lyles said. Could you please let me know when it is going to slow down at the same time, 20.32? When Lyles turned his back to look for his mother in the stands as soon as he turned his back to search for her, the crowd erupted in cheers and the crowd started to shake. After finding out, Lyles ripped open his Team USA singlet to expose his bare chest immediately, just like he did when he found out.
Lyles explained that when that number changed from a 2 to a 1, her mood changed completely.
Lyles was able to attack the start of his race with such ferocity that Johnson, who was watching from the stands in his capacity as a BBC commentator, was riveted to his performance.
It was the curve that was the key to Johnson’s success, he told LetsRun.com in a recent interview. Throughout the race, he ran harder than he had ever run before.
Regarding the loss of his American record, what can be said about that? It was with no hesitation that Johnson, who had been retired for more than 20 years, was at peace with the possibility that Lyles would run faster than 19.32 one day.
“To be honest with you, once you hold the world record it doesn’t really matter what the others are because you’ve already won,” Johnson said. Having said that, I have never had a desire to hold onto records after I retired, for the same reason.
The US completed a podium sweep of the men’s 100 meters (with an entirely different set of athletes) and the men’s shot put (with an entirely different set of athletes) behind Lyles while Bednarek (19.77) and Knighton (19.80) gave the US another podium sweep of the championships.
There were many people who thought Knighton would remain his biggest challenger for the title despite finishing just .02 behind Lyles in the USA.
However, Knighton clipped the side of his starting blocks with the right foot as the gun was fired, slowing his acceleration around the turn, which is usually his strongest part of the race.
There was no information that Knighton would divulge regarding the reasons he was wearing new shoes in this race.
At the age of 18 years, 174 days, Knighton was never going to be able to run down Lyles after trailing off the bend, but he still made history by becoming the youngest man to win a medal at the World Championships in the men’s sprint. Knighton graduated from Hillsborough High School earlier this year.
In spite of Knighton’s lack of pushing tonight, Lyles seems to have been motivated by Knighton’s threat to push him through the season towards the fourth-fastest time in history, being only surpassed by Jamaican Usain Bolt (19.19), Yohan Blake (19.26), and Bolt again (19.30).
On April 30, Knighton ran 19.49, which was twice as fast as Lyles had ever run, at the time. As a result, Lyles immediately dived into a stall in his vehicle when he saw Knighton run 19.49.
Having decided not to go to dinner, Lyles turned around in the middle of his dinner plan. Getting ready for tomorrow’s race is the first thing we have to do.”
A short time later, it was Knighton’s threat to Lyles – and the desire to break Johnson’s American record in the 100-meter event in Eugene – that prompted Lyles to abandon his quest for a double crown in Eugene in favor of concentrating solely on the 200-meter event.
It was obvious to me that I did not want to lose to Erriyon, point simple,” Lyles stated. Losing is not something I like to do. There was just too much of a risk involved when I tried to double with Erriyon over here dropping 19.4s.
No athlete is ever satisfied that they have run a perfect race until the clock reaches 0.00, and there is no way for an athlete to be sure they have run the perfect race until the clock reads 0.00.
Therefore, Lyles did not run the perfect race tonight. He was the closest he had ever been, and the closest anyone has been in over a decade, since prime Bolt and Blake were roaming the Earth, and the closest anyone has been since that time.
Just maybe, when you read it, you wondered whether Bolt’s 19.19, which has been untouchable for 13 years now, might someday be challenged. There is at least one expert who believes this to be the case.
According to Johnson, Noah is not that concerned about AR much since he doesn’t seem to care about it that much. According to him, he is interested in the WR position. In my opinion, he is capable of getting it.”
I will leave that type of discussion for another day, though. Now that Noah Lyles has run the fastest 200 meters of any American sprinter ever, he is once again the 200-meter world champion. He is satisfied with that – and that is all he needs for tonight.