American sprint sensation Noah Lyles is fast and fun. And on Tuesday night beneath the flood lights of the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, his charismatic personality combined perfectly with his dazzling speed to land a first world title.
The 22-year-old clocked 19.83 seconds to secure the men’s 200m event at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, three weeks after clinching a Diamond League double, to cap off what has been an incredible season.
On the start line, as Lyles was being introduced and the spotlight descended on him, he looked to the heavens and roared. He was obviously ready to put on a show and he did exactly that to cross the finishing line, barely threatened by Canada’s Andre de Grasse, who took silver, and Alex Quinonez.
“I haven’t even realized I won, to be honest. I’m not going to lie” Lyles said with a huge smile. It’s like something you’ve imagined so many times in your head that once you actually achieve it it’s like, ‘I don’t believe I did this’. But it does feel really good to know that I’m at the end of the season and we came out with the ultimate victory which is the gold medal.”
Lyles, who was the clear pre-event favourite, did not get close to the time of 19.50 he managed in Lausanne, which is the fourth-fastest 200-meter time in history. But he did just enough to earn the global crown.
Tuesday’s victory means Lyles has lost just once at a meeting since finishing fourth at the 2016 US Olympics trials as a high-school student. His latest defeat came at the Rome Diamond League in June, where he finished as runner-up to compatriot Michael Norman.
In the meantime, Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19, which was set at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, remains intact.
Lyles now set sights on an Olympic double from the 100m and 200m come Tokyo next year.
“I’m definitley going after the 1-2 double I know everyone is asking that, don’t worry,” he assured. “Tokyo is it. This time we got the gold. We got the gold in the 200, and now we are going to get that double gold.”
Giving his thoughts on the issue about lack of spectators in the stadium, Lyles said: “I thought about that when I first came out here, about there being very little spectators – and I know a lot of people are talking about that back home. But to be honest the fact that people are talking about it on social media and at home means that people are watching. So no matter how many people are going to be in the stands I know that there are people all around the world that are watching, so that means I still have to put on a show. I’m still reaching out to people all across the world even though it might not be happening here in Doha.”
Source: Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam – AIPS Media