Lyles skipping world double to focus on 200m gold – and Bolt’s record
29 Aug 2019 – 0:03
Noah Lyles of the US and Alex Wilson (R) of Switzerland during a press conference. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
Zurich: Sprint sensation Noah Lyles admitted Wednesday he was skipping the sprint double at next month’s world championships to focus on possibly erasing Usain Bolt’s name from the record books while winning 200m gold.
The now-retired Bolt holds the world records in both the 100m (9.58sec) and 200m (19.19sec), both set at the Berlin world champs in 2009.
But Lyles is hitting form at the perfect time ahead of the Doha worlds from September 27-October 6, running 19.50sec in Lausanne last month to become the fourth fastest ever runner over the 200m.
“The reason I’m not running the 100m is because I have a very strong chance of winning that 200m and I also have a very strong chance of trying to break some meet records,” said the 22-year-old Lyles ahead of Thursday’s opening Diamond League final in Zurich.
“I might not get another chance like this again because I plan to be doubling after this.
“The 100m is just one of those races where I’m not so strong in it that I know I’m going to come away with a win.
“I don’t want to be tired in pushing for the top three in the 100m and not having that chance of getting that 200m gold.”
Lyles added that he was not consumed by breaking Bolt’s world record.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” he said.
“I’m not really here to take individual records, I’m just here to run fast. If that breaks a record, cool!”
But Lyles’ competitive nature shone through when he acknowledged that he had not been satisfied with his 19.50sec run.
“I went into that competition thinking I was going to run a 19.4,” he said.
“Next time I’m in good shape, I’ll be striving for some hardcore runs.”
Lyles will be up against defending world champion Justin Gatlin on Thursday, the veteran American still going strong at the relatively ripe old age of 37.
Also in the field will be Jamaican Yohan Blake – the 2011 world 100m champion who set a meeting record of 9.67sec during his last appearance in Zurich in 2012 – British duo Adam Gemili and Zharnel Hughes, American Michael Rodgers and South Africa’s Commonwealth champion Akani Simbine.
“Body wise I feel ready to go,” warned Lyles, who lost his last 10m outing against Gatlin, beaten by a hundredth of a second in Monaco.
“I’m very excited to see where my 100m is going to take me.
“We’ve put a tonne of work into the start and it’s paying off. I feel pretty confident. Block practices have been going very well.”