Noah Lyles is the sprint man of the hour. The American made headlines when he snatched the men’s 100m title at the USATF Championships in 9,88 seconds.
The victory made him the youngest U.S. 100m champion in 34 years.
The 20-year-old currently holds the fastest times of this year for both the 100m and 200m. And he’s pretty happy about it.
Lyles’ talent is undeniable, but the track sensation is just getting started.
His primary event is the 200m, and the 2016 world junior champion wants to turn his attention to it in the upcoming Diamond League meets. Lyles, who has a share of the year’s best at 19,69 seconds, is planning to light up Lausanne and Monaco (20 July).
Speed Runs in the Family
Lyles isn’t the first in his family to be an athletic all-star. His father Kevin won 4x400m relay gold at the world championships 1995 in Gothenburg. His mother, Keisha Cane, competed for Seton Hall University, where they were both student athletes.
Noah told IAAF Inside Athletics that he and his younger brother, Josephus, got into athletics when Noah was 12 years old.
Noah actually started out as a high jumper, while Josephus pursued the 400m and 800m.
The brothers are incredibly close—the two had planned to attend the University of Florida together, but chose to go pro together instead.
They announced their decision simultaneously on Twitter, each tweeting their name and “pro athlete.” Noah was 19.
Rio Setback 2016
While watching the Opening Ceremonies of London 2012, Noah and his brother decided they’d try for the 2016 Games.
After four years of intense training, Noah made it to the Olympic qualifiers. He placed fourth in the 200m, missing the Olympic team by just 0.09 seconds.
But the 18-year-old still left his mark: his time of 20.09 broke the American high school record set by Roy Martin in 1985.
Lyles may not have pulled off making it to Rio, but it wasn’t for lack of confidence. He has stated that while he has a lot of respect for other top runners, they don’t intimidate him.
“I don’t really put people on pedestals because if you put people on pedestals how are you going to face them in trials?”
Even though he didn’t compete in Rio, Lyles did win 200m gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing 2014 at 16. He also clinched the 100m and 4X100m titles at the 2016 World Junior Championships.
Lyles found himself sidelined at the beginning of the 2017 season due to a hamstring injury, but managed to come back and claim the Diamond League 200m title.
Noah Lyles wants to beat Bolt's time
Lyles has stated that he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself before a race, but don’t be fooled.
He does have HIGH expectations.
“My time targets are pretty high,” he said in an IAAF interview.
“I like to keep them high so I don’t get bored in the middle of the season.”
When asked what time he would need to “do his career right,” Lyles immediately indicated that he’d like to break the world record.
“If Usain Bolt’s running 19.19 (in the 200m sprint), I might as well go for that .18.”
Sprinting isn’t the only thing Lyles does well. He began customizing tennis shoes his senior year of high school and continues to create new designs for himself and his friends.
He also enjoys drawing and hopes to pursue a degree in digital design (after he retires, that is.)
And his dance moves? On. Point.
Another outlet for Lyles’ creativity is the themed ensembles he wears on the track. His latest theme was The Incredibles 2.
His latest project is a YouTube channel. His posts include advice for runners about everything from training and recovery to college recruitment.
Striving For Tokyo 2020
Missing out on Rio may have delayed Lyles’ dream, but it hasn’t diminished it.
“The Olympic Games are always the biggest target,” the runner told Olympic.org. “Everybody wants to be an Olympian and everybody wants to win Olympic medals. I’m definitely putting it on my list of things I want to achieve.”