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Athletics-Lyles brings star power to track at US trials

By Thomson Reuters Jun 21, 2024 | 5:38 PM

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Noah Lyles wants to stamp out his territory on and off the track ahead of the Paris Games, as the 100 metres world champion begins his latest U.S. Olympic trials campaign this week with enormous expectations on his shoulders.

A speedy 9.85 second performance in the 100 metres earlier this month in Kingston saw him finish second to budding Jamaican rival Oblique Seville and Lyles will look to improve upon that time at the famed Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

“I’m planning to go sub-80 at U.S. Championships. I feel like that would just put your stamp of approval,” Lyles, who will also compete in the 200m, told Reuters. “You guys want it, you have to come get it.”

Lyles faces tough challengers in both events but says he is a different person since picking up Olympic bronze in the 200m three years ago after honing his mental health.

“Sometimes I go back and watch my older races from 2021 and I’ll literally look at myself and I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know who that guy is but I’m not him.’ Not anymore,” he said.

“I’m leagues away from that. My training – and I think my energy – has proven that.”

Lyles became the first athlete since Usain Bolt in 2015 to win the sprint double at the worlds in Budapest last year and has long sought to bring his sport into the public limelight as the Jamaican great did.

Appearing at a New York party this month to promote Netflix’s new docu-series “Sprint,” he offered a reminder of why he is one of track’s most valuable spokesmen.

Organisers had promised a handful of notable athletes would attend the event – Lyles was the only one to show up.

“We originally planned for there to be about three or four of us from the show here. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out,” he told Reuters.

“I really don’t want to be the only guy here. As much as I like the attention, I don’t want it to be only me. I want it to be all of us.”

Fans hope the series will do for athletics what “Drive to Survive” did for Formula 1 in the United States, with Lyles and Italian Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs among those featured. It launches on the streaming giant on July 2.

“It’s something that I’ve definitely wanted to see for the sport for a long time,” said Lyles. “My biggest question is just what are we going to do after it comes out.”

The trials run from June 21-30.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York)