Sun, 31 May 2020

Fast-rising sprinter Lyles focused on the maths

25 Aug 2019, 22:12 GMT+10

Paris - "It's all about the execution," is a post-race phrase much heard and repeated by athletes in the bowels of stadiums across the world.

Employing the same, meticulous approach to race day as training is an art form given the extra pressure of putting into practice a performance honed during long hours at an anonymous track without the watchful eyes of thousands of spectators.

New kid on the block Noah Lyles likened sprinting to a maths equation: one simple error and the moment is lost.

"To run fast, you have to make sure you do the exact right thing every time," the 22-year-old said after winning the 200m at Saturday's Diamond League in Paris in a scintillating 19.65 seconds.

"It's like a maths equation. You can't get the maths equation by messing up one thing, it's all over - it's just like track, if you mess up in one part, the race is going to go to someone else."

Lyles has positioned himself as one of the pretenders to fill the large footprints left by now-retired Jamaican legend Usain Bolt, himself a keen advocate of the beauty of execution in his halcyon days on the track when he dominated sprinting, winning 11 world and eight Olympic gold medals.

Just how good is Lyles? Well he stormed to 19.50sec over 200m in Lausanne last month, making him the fourth fastest man over that distance. Only Bolt, with the world record of 19.19sec, fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake and American Michael Johnson have run faster.

Lyles' 19.65sec in Paris has only been bettered by four other sprinters: the American quartet of Walter Dix, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Xavier Carter.

So he finds himself in exalted company, but warns that there is much more to come.

"I'm not even close to peaking right now," Lyles said.

"We had a few practice sessions and they were nowhere close to what I was doing back at home a few weeks after the US championships.

"I'm trying to get back to that form and when I get back to that I think something special might happen."

Lyles tantalisingly hinted that he had been posting some impressive practice times.

"I beat my season's best twice in the 100m in practice. It just comes down to executing it in a race - coming to a competition, making sure that each time you do it the same."

He added: "The 200m is a little bit more lenient. Every time I run in practice it's usually equalling or a little faster than what I've done on track."

The world championships in Doha are scheduled for September 28-October 6, meaning a longer than usual season for athletes.

But Lyles insisted he had faith in his pre-season training regime to see him through to Doha, where he will race only the 200m, with an eye on a sprint double at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

"I trust my beginning-of-the-season endurance training. We took a long period of time, three months, doing volume training to get ready for this long season. I knew I'd still be able to come out here and train and race."

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