In what was a year of surprises for Noah Lyles, the 18-year-old US sprinter had one final trick up his sleeve in Bydgoszcz on Wednesday night (20).
As the field settled into their blocks for the men’s 100m final, many considered Lyles the champion elect, but truth be told the athlete himself wondered whether his body, which had carried him to fourth place at the US Olympic Trials over 200m just 10 days before, would have enough left to carry him to victory.
He had little cause for concern, for soon after rising from his blocks the 19-year-old found a gear that none of his rivals possessed. In the end, he needed it, for Lyles trailed for the first half of the race.
“My fastest race is the 200 and I’m always a late pusher,” he said afterwards. “I knew I wouldn’t be on top at the start, so I just had to go through my whole race.”
Midway through the race, just inches separated the leading seven athletes as the eighth, Britain’s Rechmial Miller, pulled up swiftly with an injury.
Italy’s Filippo Tortu and Barbados’s Mario Burke ran in line with Lyles with 30 metres to run, but it was then that Lyles found his extra reserves and began to pull away. Lyles crossed the line in 10.17 to retain the title for the USA, admitting afterwards that performing well at this championships after the physical and emotional toll of the US Trials had been challenging.
“To be honest, I’m surprised I was able to do all this,” he said. “I was a little tired, but I’m really proud of my achievement. World junior champion has a nice little ring to it.”
Lyles will now turn his attention to the 4x100m, but admitted he will bypass his favourite distance, the 200m, later this week. “I’m going to let somebody else take that,” he said.
Tortu held on to take second in 10.24 to the delight of his vocal teammates who were situated trackside. He came home just 0.02 ahead of Burke, who took the bronze in 10.26.
In what was an extremely close race – Lyles’ supremacy excepted – just 0.06 covered second to sixth place. South Africa’s Tlotliso Leotlela finished fourth in 10.28, with Brazil’s Paulo Andre de Oliveira next home in 10.29, just ahead of Jamaica’s Raheem Chambers in 10.30.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF