Noah Lyles, a first-time world 100m champion on Sunday night, completed the sprint double in expected style as he earned his third consecutive world 200m title in 19.52 at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 on Friday (25).
The exuberant 26-year-old may have fallen short of his 19.10 target – just as he did with his bold forecast of 9.65 in the 100m – but, most importantly, having talked the talk he was able to walk the walk.
Lyles, who bettered Michael Johnson’s longstanding US record of 19.32 when he ran 19.31 to claim gold in Oregon last year, thus becomes only the second man, after Usain Bolt, to win three or more successive world 200m gold medals.
He was followed home by two rising talents who will continue to make his career competitive in coming years.
His 19-year-old compatriot Erriyon Knighton, a bronze medallist in Oregon last summer, earned silver in 19.75, with bronze going to Botswana’s 20-year-old Letsile Tebogo, the 100m silver medallist and world U20 200m champion, in 19.81.
Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, who had high hopes of further success after earning a first global medal – bronze – in the 100m, missed out by one place as he clocked 20.02, with Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek fifth in 20.07, one place ahead of Canada’s Olympic champion Andre De Grasse, who clocked 20.14.
Lyles’s intent and confidence was obvious from the gun as he reached 100m in 10.26, with Knighton on 10.28 and Tebogo on 10.32 – and that was how it stayed.
“It is a great feeling to know I did something not a lot of people have done,” Lyles said. “In my documentary I talked about wanting it to be done, being different from anybody else, and winning double golds was one of the things on my list. I wanted to show I am different. Today I came out and showed it. I am double champion.
“My day started with a good breakfast, then I talked with my mum a bit, we always do it. There was a little bit of a hesitation but I knew I could take this. Others are just as hungry for gold as I am. Today I came with that mentality.
“Usain Bolt has done it, and him saying to me that he sees what I am doing and he respects it, it is amazing.
“We have the 4x100m final tomorrow. Team USA did a great job in the qualifications. I am hoping to join the team and grab another gold.”
Knighton commented: “Bronze last year and now silver, so I got a trade up. I got out and tried to run my own way as best I can. I didn’t win the race but I still came home with the supper so I can’t complain. I will gain lots of confidence from this.”
Tebogo added: “This bronze medal is a bonus for me, because the main goal was to see how my body can react after so many rounds of fast running. It really shows everything is going in the right direction.
“The crowd at the stadium helped me to finish this amazing work. They were crazy cheering and it really motivated me to keep going. My performance in Budapest means a lot to me, to the country and to the continent, because it is not about me, it is about the people.
“I believe I am a role model for young people in Botswana because there have not been many sprinters from my country.”
Lyles is sure to be an inspiration, too.
He had come in like a lion, venting his pent-up feeling with a huge, theatrical roar as he entered the arena. He went out like a lion, too.
|MEN’S 200m MEDALLISTS
|Noah Lyles 🇺🇸 USA
|Erriyon Knighton 🇺🇸 USA
|Letsile Tebogo 🇧🇼 BOT
Credit: World Athletics