On Sunday, two hours before the 100m semifinal, Noah Lyles (Gainesville, Florida, 1996) took photos at the hospitality from his brand of sneakers, Adidas, in a suit and cape in the sun, 40 degrees at least. Without ever losing the smile. The lack of inhibition, the apparent insouciance, the trademark of someone who, after winning, despite everything, the 100m in the final, at 7:10 p.m., with the best mark of his life (9.83s) proclaims that he is going to be the new Usain Bolt, the new king of world sprinting, and who will begin his adventure by beating the Jamaican’s world record (19.19s) in the 200m final on Friday. “I am very prepared for it”, he affirms in an interview that he briefly interrupts due to the impetuous entrance of a woman in the room affirming loudly, “let me pass, I am the mother of the world champion”. After the theater moment, mother and son embrace and laugh out loud.
Ask. When you went to sleep on Sunday after winning the 100m, already crowned king of sprint in Budapest, did you feel different from the night before?
Answer. I felt more excited and joyful. Sometimes when I win world championships [es doble campeón mundial de 200m]I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but this time I felt like I was recharged and ready to go back into battle. For me it was more of an affirmation than a glorious moment. I think we are still walking towards the summit of what these world championships will be.
P. You’re talking about Friday, the 200m final, right?
R. Yes, exactly. I’m talking about running under 19.19s [se refiere al récord del mundo de Usain Bolt desde 2009. Su mejor marca en la distancia es de 19,31s]. That’s where all my momentum is pushing now. It’s almost like the 100m is practice to build my speed throughout the week to get to Friday.
P. Do you feel ready to beat Bolt’s record?
R. I am very prepared.
P. But to be the fastest man in the world it is not enough to have the 200m record, he will need above all the 100m record, Bolt’s 9.58s. in the 100. In the final on Sunday he achieved his best mark ever, 9.83s. What do you need to drop 26 hundredths, down to 9.57s?
R. The nice thing about the final on Sunday is that it showed me I still have a lot to learn about the 100m. I know the 200 meters like the back of my hand. It is easy. It’s natural. The 100m is like my left hand. I know I have it, I know it, but I can’t write my beautiful name with it. But I know that I can get it. One day I will write with it as with my right hand. I’m excited to find out what it’s going to take to get there. So yes, I became the 100m world champion, but the most exciting thing is that I know I’m going to get better every year.
P. Do you need to be pushed by other fast-starters, like Coleman in the final, to improve?
R. Not at all. I was alone, in my world. To be honest, I don’t remember seeing any rivals. He knew they were there, but with 20 meters to go, he also knew that he was about to reach a speed that no one else could. And I did it. And I knew when I crossed that line that I was the winner. I was a bit confused because everyone else was yelling like they won. Usually, I am excessive in my celebrations, I rip T-shirts, I dance, I do somersaults, all that. But this time, I had to wait until the screen told me that I was the winner, and everything was calmer.
P. In the last five 100m Worlds and Games finals, there have been five different winners, Gatlin, Coleman, Jacobs, Kerley and you. Do you think it will be the first to repeat, winning in 2024 at the Country Games? It would be the first after Bolt…
R. I am using this World Championship as a model. Coming here, winning three gold medals, is going to be exactly the same goal for next year’s Olympic Games. I think that in Budapest my own dynasty has started.
P. Nor has anyone doubled victory in the 100m and 200m since the Jamaican did it at Rio 2016.
R. There are many things that make you a legend, and doubling is one of them. It is a very difficult thing to do. I want to be crowned the sprint king. I feel like no one deserves that title more than me and I’m willing to fight tooth and nail for it.
P. Have you ever been to Spain?
R. No, I haven’t had the pleasure yet.
P. Of course, no big rally is organized there for people of their level…
R. Oh well, maybe something can be changed in the future.
P. Maybe, but a lot more money would need to be invested in athletics… More sponsors, more marketing…
R. But no, I think that the small things that we can start have nothing to do with a lot of money. It’s more about where to put the resources that are being channeled now. I think a lot of top athletes would trade money for more viewers. If they know their market value is rising, I think they’d be willing to trade some of that early quick money for longer-term money.
P. His exuberance, his haircut, the childish joy with which he celebrates his victories are part of that strategy. Are they a way of seeking more audience?
R. That’s me, it’s not strategy. Kids ask me all the time, or tell me all the time, I want to be like you when I grow up. And the only way I know of to answer is, as long as you’re like yourself, you’re already being like me.
P. He has always declared himself an admirer of manga, Dragon Ball, de Goku…
R. And I still read manga, of course. In the 100m final she wore Goku socks…
P. I read that at school he suffered bullying…
R. In sixth grade, I was definitely bullied, yes.
P. He gives the impression of being a man who feels impelled to fulfill a mission… Was that need born there, from what he suffered at school?
R. No, I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say those things are connected. I would rather say that I don’t like to be compared. I grew up in a home where we all celebrated each other’s gifts, our natural gifts, whether it was being good at running, being smart in school, creating things. This is how we saw each other. We considered ourselves different and created a collective and a strong team. So when I see people compare me to others, it goes against a lot of the beliefs I had when I was little.
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