The United States now has the great good fortune to have discovered two outstanding young male sprinting talents in consecutive years: first last year’s IAAF World Championships 100m silver medallist Christian Coleman and now 20-year-old Noah Lyles, who last weekend became the youngest man in 34 years to claim the US 100m title in a world-leading 9.88.
He snatched the title from Ronnie Baker (9.90) with a dramatic late surge.
Lyles, the world U20 champion, first sprang to prominence over 200m last year when he won at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai with 19.90. A mid-season injury prevented him from making it to the IAAF World Championships, but he returned to form to win the IAAF Diamond League 200m title in Brussels.
This year he has continued his unbeaten run in IAAF Diamond League 200m races, winning in Doha in 19.83 and in Eugene with a world-leading 19.69.
Amazingly, he is now faster than Usain Bolt at the same age over both sprint distances. At 20 in 2007, Bolt’s personal best times were 10.03 and 19.75.
Lyles, who ran 9.89 in his semifinal at the US Championships, is also one of only six men in history who have run faster than 9.90 twice in one day. The other men in that exclusive club are Bolt, fellow Jamaicans Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, world 100m champion Justin Gatlin and fellow American Trayvon Bromell.
World indoor 60m champion Coleman, 22, did not contest the US Championships as he is recovering from a hamstring injury, but he is due to return to competition at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat on 13 July.
Meanwhile, Lyles is scheduled to meet 400m world leader Michael Norman over 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on 5 July in what will be a highlight of that event.
Born: 18 Jul 1997. Coach: Launce Brauman
It’s little surprise that Noah Lyles ended up pursuing athletics; the sport runs in his family.
His father, Kevin Lyles, is the 1995 world 4x400m champion and has a 400m PB of 45.01. His mother, Keisha Caine Lyles, was an NCAA finalist indoors and outdoors in 1995.
His younger brother Josephus is also an up-and-coming sprinter, having earned 400m silver and 200m bronze at 2015 World U18 Championships and 4x400m gold at the 2014 World U20 Championships.
Lyles and his brother tried basketball, soccer, swimming and gymnastics in their youth, but athletics captured their attention. “I always liked the individual aspect of athletics,” says Lyles.
It wasn’t long before he started to make an impact. Just days before his 16th birthday, he picked up a silver medal in the medley relay at the 2013 IAAF World U18 Championships in Donetsk. Little more than a year later, he won the 200m title at the Youth Olympic Games.
More medals followed in 2015 at the Pan American Junior Championships in Edmonton, where he won the 200m in 20.27 and earned silver in the 100m in 10.18. In 2016, his final year as an U20 athlete, he confirmed his status as one of the most exciting prospects in US sprinting when setting a national U20 200m record of 20.09 at the US Championships. 11 days later, he won the 100m at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz and followed it with another gold medal in the 4x100m.
Lyles started 2017 by setting a North American indoor 300m record of 31.87. Although injury kept him out of action during the middle of the 2017 season, he still managed to win the IAAF Diamond League 200m title in Brussels in 20.00, having set a PB of 19.90 earlier in the year in Shanghai.
In 2018 he has continued to build on his reputation as one of the world’s best 200m sprinters and, after his 9.88 100m triumph at the US Championships, has confirmed that he is also a serious threat over the shorter distance.
Top five 100m performers in 2018:
9.88 Noah Lyles (USA) Des Moines 22 Jun
9.89 Michael Rodgers (USA) Des Moines 21 Jun
9.90 Ronnie Baker (USA) Des Moines 22 Jun
9.91 Zharnel Hughes (GBR) Kingston 9 Jun
9.91 Su Bingtian (CHN) Madrid 22 Jun
Head-to-head progression at 100m and 200m – Coleman / Lyles
Coleman: 10.30 (10.29w), 20.94
Lyles: 10.45, 20.71
Coleman: 10.18 (10.16w), 20.61
Lyles: 10.14 (10.07w), 20.18
Coleman: 9.95, 20.26
Lyles: 10.16 (10.08w), 20.09 (20.04w)
Coleman: 9.82, 19.85
Lyles: (9.95w), 19.90
Coleman: 10.06 (9.84w)
Lyles: 9.88 (9.86w), 19.69