Noah Lyles went some way to deflecting the spotlight away from under-fire US teammate Christian Coleman by storming to another impressive victory in the 200m at Saturday’s Diamond League meet in Paris.
Lyles, who snatched headlines by running a world-leading 19.50 seconds in Lausanne last month to become the fourth fastest of all time over the half-lap race, clocked 19.65sec at a packed Stade Charlety. With that, Lyles bettered the previous record of 19.73 that was held by Usain Bolt.
It was perfect timing for the 22-year-old American, coming a day after it was reported that Coleman had missed three drugs tests, leaving him staring at a possible ban ahead of the September 28-October 6 world championships in Doha.
“I’m coming off a loaded week in training so that gives me a lot of confidence,” said Lyles.
“It felt fast. I blinked and all of a sudden the race was over.
“I’ve been putting in some great training sessions but it’s always different when you’re over here in Europe, it’s like a hiccup to overcome in itself with the travel.”
Lyles, who ran 19.78sec to win the 200m at the US championships, started in lane seven in the 12th leg of the Diamond League ahead of finals in Zurich and Brussels on August 29 and September 6 respectively.
The American effortlessly motored away from the field down the stadium’s brand-new blue track laid in preparation for next year’s European championships.
“When I was coming off the turn it felt like such a fast track, the fastest I’ve ever felt coming off the turn,” Lyles said.
In balmy conditions, with a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (84F), Turkey’s world and European champion Ramil Guliyev came in second in 20.01sec.
Lyles, who will compete only in the 200m at the Doha worlds before attempting a sprint double at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has been touted, along with Coleman and Michael Norman, as a possible name to help fill the now-retired Usain Bolt’s absence from the track.
Should he keep up his form over 200m, Lyles will be a solid challenger to dominate the event in coming years.
But he played down a pitch at Bolt’s world record of 19.19sec set almost 10 years ago to the day at the Berlin world championships.
“Looking to Doha, it’s not about going after Bolt’s record or anything like that,” he said.
“But when we get there we’re willing to go after any record.”
The women’s 100m was won by Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the reigning olympic double sprint champion, in 10.98sec.
There was no Dina Asher-Smith, the in-form Briton instead in action at her home championships.
Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou claimed second in 11.13, two-hundredths ahead of Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers.
“It was a hard race,” said Thompson. “It’s still five weeks to Doha so it’s all preparation at this stage.
“I’m feeling great and I’m getting in shape step by step, day by day. I’m not at 100 percent yet because it’s all about the world championships.
“It’s very important to put races like this in because it was a strong field so to get the victory is great.”
(with AFP inputs)