Another Bolt record under threat
EVEN THOUGH he defended his World 200-metre title last year in Eugene, Oregon, Noah Lyles has a long way to go before he matches Usain Bolt’s achievements in the half-lap sprint. That’s because Bolt did far too much for anyone to catch him easily....
EVEN THOUGH he defended his World 200-metre title last year in Eugene, Oregon, Noah Lyles has a long way to go before he matches Usain Bolt’s achievements in the half-lap sprint. That’s because Bolt did far too much for anyone to catch him easily. However, there is one area in which Lyles is catching Bolt fast.
The incomparable Jamaican compiled more sub-20-second 200-metre races than anyone in track and field history with 34 trips past that barrier. Lyles is only two sub-20 clockings short of Bolt’s total and, if his fast run at 150 metres in Atlanta on Saturday is anything to go by, the 25-year-old American will be number one soon. In 2022, when Lyles clocked a national record of 19.31 seconds to win in Eugene, he reeled off 11 sub-20 times. That’s five more than in 2021, when he placed third in the Olympic final behind Andre deGrasse of Canada and his American compatriot, Kenny Bednarek.
With that level of sub-20 productivity, Lyles should surpass Bolt this season.
Should he win the 200 at the World Championships this August in Budapest, Hungary, he would only need one more to tie Bolt’s total of four. With another World Championships coming in 2025, it isn’t inconceivable that Lyles could then pull even.
NO COMPARISON just yet
Of course, Bolt also has the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medals tucked away at home. To outdo Bolt’s collection of titles, Lyles needs to step up from his 2021 Olympic bronze to replicate the tall man’s gold medal count before the comparison can have real substance. With the Olympics spaced every four years, we’re a long, long way from having that discussion.
In the meantime, Lyles is definitely in the sub-20 passing lane. In Atlanta, he chased down Kenya’s muscular Commonwealth 100-metre champion Ferdinand Omanyala and covered the distance in 14.56 seconds.
Bolt set the 150-metre world record of 14.35 seconds in 2009, when he was at his incandescent best. Peaking brilliantly at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany, he lowered his 100 and 200-metre world records from 9.69 and 19.30 in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics, to 9.58 and 19.19 seconds.
By comparison, Lyles’ 100-metre benchmark is ‘merely’ 9.86.
The outgoing American may feel that his Atlanta blast will put him ahead of his 2022 pace.
“I was running to break the world record, so if anything, you could say I was a little disappointed,” he said after Eugene, even though the old American record – 19.32 seconds by 1996 Olympic champion Michael Johnson – was the world record when it was set.
No one knows if Bolt’s record will fall to the American, but one thing is reasonably certain. If Lyles stays healthy, he will soon become the sprinter with the most sub-20 clockings in history.