Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton edged out at USATF Games in Bermuda
Noah Lyles said his fellow sprinters could be in trouble this season. The world 200m champion opened it by nearly winning his complementary event, the 100m, at the USATF Games in Bermuda on Saturday.
Lyles couldn’t find the surprise winner Jerome Blake of Canada in the final.
Blake, who ranked 46th in the world last year with a personal best 10.06 seconds, won in 10.38 seconds in a headwind of 5.6 meters per second. Lyles finished third in 10.39, clocking the same thousandth of a second time in second place Erryon Knighton.
“Of course, the conditions aren’t what you wanted, but I was just here to catch some vibes, to race against fast people, you know, to have fun,” Lyles said. Lewis Johnson on NBC.
USATF BERMUDA GAMES: Full Results
Lyles started his outdoor season expressing his confidence.
“These practices that I put in place consistently, there hasn’t been a Noah who’s practiced like this before,” Lyles said in an interview published last month. “I scare people with the times I put in training.”
None of Saturday’s times will scare anyone as the athletes had to contend with headwinds in excess of 10 miles per hour. Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86.
So his run is best measured by how he fared against the pitch. Lyles has become a big favorite after his compatriots Kenny Bednarek, Ronnie Baker and Marvin Bracy withdrew before the game.
Although Blake won, the most interesting foe was Knighton, who smashed Usain Bolt junior records last year en route to a fourth-place finish at the Olympics. Lyles and Knighton will likely fight for the 200m title at the world championships in July.
Lyles started competing in the 100m and 200m at the Olympics last year, then placed seventh in the 100m at the Olympic trials.
In his favorite 200m, he arrived in Tokyo as the world’s fastest man of the year. He took the bronze, tearing himself apart after discussing mental health issues.
“A big problem last year was that I didn’t have enough time to really activate my body,” Lyles said earlier this year. “And when I did it, it was already Préfontaine [Classic, a meet after the Olympics where Lyles ran 19.52 seconds, the world’s top time in two years]. And I was running fast, but I was mentally exhausted.
Lyles has made it a point in the just-completed indoor season to work on his debut, studying his rivals Christian Colman and Trayvon Bromel. He twice lowered his personal best in the 60m indoors (each time by 0.01 seconds).
“I’m very lucky right now because last year was the opposite,” Lyles said in the interview published last month. “I felt like I wasn’t getting closer to where I was, and now I’m at a point where I’ve never been.”
Lyles still has two months to prepare for the biggest competitions of the season, starting with the USATF Outdoor Championships in June in Eugene, Oregon, where World Championship berths are on the line. Lyles has already a pass for the team in the 200m as defending world champions, but he’ll likely have to finish in the top three in the 100m if he wants to double down.
“I thought I would have a gold medal [in the Olympics] now,” Lyles said earlier this year. “It’s okay. We will keep pushing, it gives me more motivation for the years to come.
In other events on Saturday, the U.S. Olympian Teahna Daniels won the women’s 100m in 11.45 seconds in a headwind and 5.2m/s rain, fending off the Olympic 200m bronze medalist Gaby Thomas by .04. Daniels ranked sixth in the world last season with a best time of 10.83.
World champion Grant Holloway chose not to run the 110m hurdles due to strong headwinds, more dangerous for the hurdles. Veteran Shane Brathwaite of Barbados won in 13.78 seconds.
olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho Quinn from Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.67 seconds, the best time in the world this year despite a headwind of 2.5m/s.
Men’s Olympic 400m champions Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas and Kirani James from Granada also scored victories. Gardiner, the reigning 400m gold medalist, rallied to win the 200m in 20.79. James, the 2012 gold medalist, won the 400m in 45.63.
The track and field season continues next Saturday with the USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC Relays in California, live on CNBC.
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