EUGENE, Ore. — Noah Lyles crouched down, put his palms on his knees and glared on the clock. Not seeing what he’d hoped for, he waved his hand dismissively and walked again onto the observe to have fun what was nonetheless a long-awaited win within the 200 meters on the world championships.
Oh, however this evening would simply hold getting higher.
The clock that, for a second, learn “19.32,” would modify down a tick to “19.31.” That meant he broke Michael Johnson’s hallowed, 26-year-old American file — a mark that, for many years, appeared unapproachable.
“I used to be very self-concerned about whether or not that quantity was going to show from a ‘2’ to a ‘1,’” Lyles conceded after Thursday evening’s history-making win.
Then, a number of seconds later, the scoreboard that, at first, solely had Lyles’ identify on it, popped up with the names of the 2 finishers behind him: Kenny Bednarek and Erriyon Knighton of the U.S. The U.S. had swept the 200, simply because it had the 100 4 nights earlier.
Lyles pounded his hand on the observe 4 occasions, stood up straight and ripped off his jersey. He grabbed his medal from the presenter, then went over and hugged his household and took maintain of an American flag — one in every of many which were wanted on the first world championships to be held in the US.
The sweep gave the U.S. 22 medals by seven days.
“America’s, like, scooping up medals left and proper,” Lyles stated. “This feels nice as a result of I have been ready for America to come back out and dominate since I received on the platform.”
Lyles’ 19.31 was the third-fastest time in historical past, behind solely Usain Bolt’s 19.19 in 2009 and a 19.26 run two years later by one other Jamaican, Yohan Blake, whereas he was briefly pushing Bolt for supremacy.
However Johnson and people gold sneakers that crossed the road in 19.32 on the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 maintain a titanic place in observe historical past, too. Johnson ran it 352 days earlier than Lyles was born. The quantity “19.32,” stood there, teasing and taunting, for many years — an particularly awe-inspiring mark for any quick child with large desires within the early 2000s.
“I did not wish to see ’32,’ I didn´t wish to share a file,” Lyles stated of his response instantly after the race. “No one desires to share a file. I feel even Michael Johnson would not wish to share a file. So I used to be simply begging it to alter.”
BACK-TO-BACK 🥇 AND A NEW AMERICAN RECORD IN THE 200M FOR NOAH LYLES 🤩
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 22, 2022
Hours after the victory, Johnson was down on the observe speaking with Lyles whereas a number of dozen followers soaked within the scene. Lyles stated they’d by no means met earlier than. Johnson lifted Lyles’ arm within the air whereas the followers took photos of the previous and new American record-holders.
“He simply stated he had an important race,” Johnson advised an Related Press reporter when requested what they talked about. “He stated he labored tougher than he ever did. I assumed he ran an important curve. And so, it was incredible.”
Lyles’ victory got here moments after Shericka Jackson gave the Jamaican ladies one other gold within the sprints. She ran 21.45, the second-fastest time in historical past, to beat her teammate, 100-meter champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, by 0.16.
Solely defending champion Dina Asher-Smith of Britain, who gained bronze, prevented a back-to-back Jamaican sweep.
Jackson’s time is shy solely of the 21.34 run by Florence Griffith-Joyner on the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Jackson stated her victory was fueled by a mistake ultimately yr’s Olympics, the place she slowed down within the curve and completed fourth in her preliminary warmth. She referred to as it a foolish mistake, one she hadn’t re-watched a single time.
“I by no means needed to as a result of I by no means needed it to play on my thoughts and assume it may occur once more,” she stated.
Whereas the Jamaican medalists had been the identical as 4 nights in the past — Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who gained bronze within the 100, completed seventh on this one — the Individuals put a very completely different trio on the stand.
Fred Kerley, Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell dominated the 100. This time, it was Lyles, Bednarek — the Olympic silver medalist who broke his toe in December at house whereas putting in a cupboard — and Knighton, who’s now the youngest particular person dash medalist in worlds observe historical past.
Knighton’s 19.49 earlier this yr made him a slight favourite on this race and arrange what has been touted as a rivalry with Lyles. It was the 25-year-old Lyles who beat Knighton final month at nationals and waved his finger as he crossed, a not-so-subtle message that he wasn’t giving in to his youthful rival.
“Everyone put within the work to be nice, and that is what he did,” Knighton stated. “I imply, he broke the American file.”
However Lyles can be the primary to concede that his largest competitors over the previous few years has been himself. As soon as, he was seen as observe’s resolution to its Bolt downside — specifically, who to show to seize eyeballs after the game’s most outsized character retired.
However the pandemic hit.
Lyles, who considers himself an entertainer at coronary heart, suffered at touring alone and competing in entrance of empty seats. He was unflinching about his mental-health struggles and the way troublesome it was to not be capable of race alongside his brother, Josephus, who’s on the U.S. relay pool this week.
“The psychological well being I had in that second is what makes this second additionally nice,” Lyles stated. “As a result of it exhibits you could come by a darkish storm and are available out of it higher.”
This week, the crowds had been again, and the journey to Oregon was straightforward. Lyles stated he felt extra “me” than he had shortly.
Then, he got here out and ran prefer it.
Although the time says it greatest, the race he ran was, certainly, a magnificence.
Arms pumping, machine-like, his 5-foot-11 body — two inches shorter than Johnson and a half-foot shorter than Bolt — hugged the within line of Lane 6 as he rounded the curve. It was over after that. When Lyles hit the straightaway, two physique lengths separated him and Bednarek in Lane 5. When Lyles hit the end line, the hole between him and second place was three full strides.
“That is positively the beginning of my life,” Lyles stated of his first 100 meters.
The second 100 weren’t unhealthy, both.
“And it is solely gonna get sooner,” he stated.