By Mitch Phillips
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Since his retirement in 2017, athletics has routinely asked “where is the new Usain Bolt?” but newly-minted world 100 metres champion Noah Lyles is doing his best on and off the track to bring his sport firmly into the public limelight.
The double world 200m champion claimed the 100m title with a personal best 9.83 in Budapest on Sunday, backing up his prediction of glory, if not quite the predicted 9.65 time, and will now seek to become the first man since Bolt to do the world sprint double.
His achievements are being followed by the latest “behind the scenes” documentary and Lyles, 26, is proud to be doing his bit for a sport that, in the United States in particular, has to fight tooth and nail for attention.
“I believe track and field needs to market itself better, it needs to be fun,” Lyles said after his victory, the fourth in a row in the event for the U.S.
“It’s easy to market me, I’m out there, but there are other stories, other approaches. I feel we have everything you need in track and that needs to be told better.
“We’re giving people a docu-series – tonight is episode two, it should be a good one. Winning the 100 metres always helps, a double helps more and a treble helps even more.”
Lyles expects to claim a third successive 200m title, and the U.S. will start as hot favourites in the 4×100 relay.
He has predicted he can take down the great Jamaican’s 2009 200m world record of 19.19 seconds having already accomplished the “hardest part” of the series via the 100.
“The 100 has been a long journey,” he said. “Today was my first PR (personal record) since 2019 and I remember that day I believed in myself so much. I felt it again today, but the scary thing is that there is so much to improve on for me in the 100.
“With the 200 I know where I am. Me and the 200 have a special connection. I know that bend, that straight, that slingshot. In the 100 there are spots I don’t know but in the 200 I know I’m there and that record is so close.
“The double is important because I know I’m the fastest, but to be able to say that with the utmost confidence I had to win the 100.
“I’ve known for a long time I had so much more to give to 100, but I’ve been giving it all to the 200. Now I’m going for three and people will look back at this year and say that was the start of a dynasty.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Toby Davis)
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