Athletics

“I know in my heart of hearts that I’m the fastest”

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Noah Lyles takes centre stage again after taking his first world 100m title, while Tebogo and Hughes make history

Noah Lyles is on a mission to spread the word about athletics. In his view, the sport and its competitors are deserving of a much wider audience, so he has set about trying to provide just that. Whether devising fashion show-style walk-ins to events or producing his own behind the scenes docuseries, the larger than life American certainly can’t be accused of not doing his bit to shine more of a spotlight on his passion.

Being good at the day job definitely helps, too, and the 26-year-old underlined why he’s a man worth paying attention to by storming his way to the first 100m world title of his career in a world-leading time of 9.83 (0.0) in Budapest.

He will aim to win a third successive 200m title, his favoured event, later this week after finishing on top of a podium filled with three athletes who would consider themselves stronger over the half-lap distance.

The battle for the medals could barely have been tighter, with the places from second to fourth separated by just four thousandths of a second.

Letsile Tebogo, the Botswanan 20-year-old, took silver in a national record of 9.88 while British record-holder Zharnel Hughes finally “broke the seal” to win his first individual global medal, being given the verdict over his Jamaican training partner Oblique Seville. Both were also clocked at 9.88.

“I came here for three golds, ticked off one, others are coming,” said Lyles, who will also be part of the US 4x100m relay team. “The 100m was the hardest one, it is out of the books. I will have fun with the event I love now.”

He added: “Having such a stronghold on the 200m really freed me up to be like ‘okay, no matter where I am in the season, I know I can always come back to the 200m and it’s going to be fast. So now it’s a matter of continuously working on the 100m and getting it faster. That’s what will make my 200m faster.

“I high-fived my coach and I told him the craziest thing is that we have still got so much more to improve on and that’s a scary thought.”

Lyles had one of the slowest starts, with Hughes and then 2019 champion Christian Coleman (who ultimately came fifth in 9.92) getting out of the blocks quickest, but the Olympic 200m bronze medallist surged through.

“Coleman always has the fast start,” said Lyles. “He had it the whole season, he was getting better and better. I expected him to do what he does. I needed to make sure that I was accelerating when I was at 60 metres, then I took the lead.

“I know in my heart of hearts that I’m the fastest but, to be able to say that with the utmost confidence, I had to win the 100m and that’s what today [was about]. I’ve known for a long time that I have so much more to give to this event.”

(Getty)

Hughes, who false-started in the Tokyo Olympic final, was hugely emotional to have changed his fortunes when it comes to major championships.

“Over the years there have been a lot of lessons. I won’t call them failures,” said last year’s fourth placer. “I believe in myself that I can still achieve something better in life. What you guys saw was years of adversity, years of challenges.

“It’s been a long time where I haven’t been in the individual medal rankings at the World Championships and I wanted to be about that. I wanted to break that seal today. I did that and I’m super grateful so be a part of this mix.”

The showpiece final was notable almost as much for those that didn’t make it as much as those that did following a highly eventful semi-final stage. Defending champion Fred Kerley failed make it through, clocking 10.02 for third place in heat three, a surprise which followed

the disqualification of another medal contender, South Africa’s Akani Simbine, for a false start, while Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs could only finish fifth in heat one in 10.05.

Britain’s Eugene Amo-Dadzie, in Budapest on annual leave from his day job as an accountant, ran faster than the Italian and narrowly missed making the final with 10.03. His fellow countryman Reece Prescod’s journey also ended with 10.26 clocking.

It had been Lyles who was fastest at that stage, too, with a time of 9.87. Now his attention will turn towards making more headlines.

“I know in my heart of hearts that I’m the fastest” appeared first on AW.

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