The goal sounds hyperbolic, but in reality, T.C. Williams senior Noah Lyles is only a quarter of a second away from achieving it.
“I know that I can,” Lyles said. “I’ve known the record for a while now.”
Lyles set a new personal record last month at the U.S. Track and Field Junior National Championships by winning the 200 in 20.18 seconds, the third-fastest high school time in the history of the event. He said he eased up at the finish line and ran just 0.25 seconds slower than Bolt’s record-setting time at the 2004 Annual Carifta Games in Bermuda.
Bolt was 17 then. The Jamaican sprinter has since gone on to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the 100 meters and 200 meters at the London Games in 2012 and the Beijing Games in 2008, when Bolt became an international sensation while breaking world records at each distance. He set the current marks in the 200 (19.19) and the 100 (9.58) in 2009.
Lyles, who turned 18 three days ago, is a two-time All-Met Athlete of the year, winning outdoor honors as a sophomore and the indoor award as junior last winter. In addition to recording a personal best in the 200 at Junior Nationals, Lyles set a new mark for himself with a 10.14-second time in the 100 meters in Eugene, Ore.
The Junior Pan Am Championships will be the third time Lyles represents the United States. He competed in the 2013 World Youth Championships in Ukraine and won gold in the 200 at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China.
“It means the same thing as every year,” Lyles said. “It makes me really happy to represent my team in front of a lot of countries.”
Lyles said he will run the 200 and 100 meters in Edmonton, and could be part of the 100-meter relay. To prepare for what he hopes is his best 200-meter race to date, Lyles has been training with his cousins on building speed through the bend in the track.
“It’s really from the 50 [meter mark], coming off of the turn with as much speed as I can, trying to slingshot out of the curve,” Lyles said. “I won’t just start moving at the 100-meter mark, I’ll be moving before that.”
Recuperation was Lyles’s priority last weekend, so he caught a vicarious thrill watching his younger brother Josephus capture silver in the 400 meters (45.46) and bronze in the 200 meters (20.74) at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia.
“It’s a whole different feeling when you can’t run yourself,” Lyles said. “As soon as I watched him, I was like, I need to do something fast.”
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