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Lyles upsets the 100m specialists with gold in Budapest

Noah Lyles won the first part of what he hopes and trusts will be a sprint double at these World Championships as he took the men’s 100m title in 9.83, the fastest time run this year, with Botswana’s 20-year-old Letsile Tebogo taking silver and Britain’s Zharnel Hughes taking bronze.

The 26-year-old US sprinter, who will next seek to win a third consecutive world 200m title before closing as part of a victorious sprint relay team, did not get too close to his exuberant prediction of running 9.65 here, but he will not care too much about that after a final which was bound to produce a new world champion following the semi-final exit of his teammate Fred Kerley.

Just four thousandths of a second separated second from fourth positions, as Jamaica’s 22-year-old Oblique Seville was overtaken right at the end by Hughes’s usual swift-finishing – another fourth place after last year’s World Championships in Oregon.

Behind Lyles, the next three men were all credited with 9.88, with Tebogo clocking 8.873, one thousandth of a second faster than Hughes, and Seville recording 8.877.

Not that Hughes – who false-started in the Tokyo Olympic final but has lowered the British record to 9.83 this season – was anything other than thrilled.

Lyles’s compatriot Christian Coleman, the 2019 world champion, got his usual swift start but eventually had to settle for fifth place in 9.92 as the cavalry arrived.

The eventual winner had qualified fastest, and a decent start set him up to complete part one of his Budapest task.

“I knew what I had to do,” he said. “I came here for three golds, ticked off one, others are coming. The 100m was the hardest one, it is out of the books. I will have fun with the event I love now.

“Coleman always has the fast start. He had it the whole season, he was even getting better and better. I expected him to do what he does and if he would be the only one in front of me, it would be my race. I needed to make sure that I was accelerating when I was at 60 metres, then I took the lead.

“My documentary series will come out soon,” added Lyles. “I talked there about doing the individual double. The reason I really wanted to do it is because nobody else deserves it more than me.”

Silver here was a huge marker for Tebogo, who has won two consecutive world U20 titles and has now served notice that he is part of the big league.

Hughes – who, like Seville, is coached by Glen Mills, Usain Bolt’s guide throughout his career – won the European 200m title in Munich last year but this marks his global breakthrough. The 28-year-old Anguilla-born athlete commented: “All these years, all these years of lessons, tribulations, of patience, I stuck to it. I had self-belief and trust in speed, my coach, and it’s all come together at last in the 100m at a World Championships.

“I am a bronze medallist. The chat and noise is part of the game. You have to have a strong mindset and trust in the work you’ve put in leading up to this point. In the end it finally worked for me. I’m grateful for this but it inspires me more to go back and see what else I can achieve.

“Getting on the podium was my target so I’m happy to do that but I’m also looking forward, looking forward to doing more work. My coach and I set ourselves targets to get ourselves prepared for next year. Bring it on.”

This event was a two-act drama, with the three semi-finals that opened the evening session being dizzy with incident – most notably the exits of the defending champion and the Olympic champion.

Kerley, who on the eve of the Championships had growled back to Lyles’s prediction of running 9.65 that if so he would run faster, could only finish third in 10.02 – ultimately missing qualification by one place.

Never an enthusiastic talker, Kerley made an initial attempt to bypass media inquisition before being guided back to the broadcasting and press pathway.

As in the heats, he was beaten by Seville, who clocked 9.90, with the second automatic qualifying place filled by Tebogo with 9.98.

“I’m not really devastated,” Kerley said. “That’s the point of the race, to find the better men. They were better men today.

Noah Lyles wins the 100m at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 (Getty Images)

“There were some movements in the start blocks but other than that I had no issues. I just have to move on. It was a terrible race for me but I’m good, I’m healthy. Life moves on.

In muggy heat, with sunny sections of the newly built arena packed with fans with fans – so much so that they resembled a gathering of butterflies – the opening semi-final had posed a large question as well as confirming an assumed answer.

The latter concerned Italy’s Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs, who had only raced once – clocking 10.21 – before coming to Budapest and had reached this point of the competition with a time of 10.15. Was there another surprising step up to come?

Answer: no. The 28-year-old Italian continued to improve, clocking 10.05 for fifth place, but his participation in this event had run its course.

“I haven’t competed much this year,” Jacobs said. “It was a very difficult year for me – too many injuries, too many problems.

“But I wanted to put my face out here because a lot of people were talking about me like I’m scared of competing, scared of running with serious opponents. I’m not scared of anybody. If I can race, I do, and I’m here.

“Just 0.04 seconds from the final – that’s how the 100 metres is. (Fred) Kerley is out by 0.01. The 100m is a very difficult race and of course I know this is not my best shape but I’m here and I’m happy.

“From now on, I’ll focus on the relay. We’re the Olympic champions and we need to do our best. I’m not that disappointed, I’m getting better and better. Maybe if I would have run in the preliminary round, it would have been even better and I would have qualified for the final (laughs). But I need to compete more and more.”

Meanwhile the question posed by heat one was: how much faster could the exuberant winner in a season’s best of 9.87, Lyles, go?

The US sprinter was followed home by Japan’s Hakim Sani Brown, who equalled his personal best of 9.97, with third-placed Omanyala’s 10.01 eventually giving him the second non-automatic qualification to the final.

The second semi-final involved a recall – and the man who didn’t make it back to the blocks after false-starting was South Africa’s Akine Simbani, who reluctantly but sportingly accepted the video evidence shown to him of his reaction time of 0.078 – 0.22 faster than the swiftest allowable – and received sustained applause as he marched sadly off into the wings.

Coleman, always an electric starter, kept the main charge going to the end to win in 9.88.

Hughes came through strongly as usual to narrowly claim the second automatic qualifying spot in 9.93 ahead of Jamaica’s Ryiem Forde, who clocked 9.95.

Credit: World Athletics

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