by Deji Ogeyingbo – Noah Lyles is an enigma. This by now is common knowledge. The more we find answers to the questions we’ve had about him before, the more he gives us reasons for the already established notion about his capabilities. After his dominance in the 200m, and winning back-to-back titles on the world stage, there was a clamor for him to do more.

The American took the challenge upon himself to take on the 100m. After all, if he wants to be counted as one of the greatest, he would have to match Usain Bolt’s exploits at the world level. The Jamaican set the standard, and to be honest, it will be very hard for any athlete to come close to his exploits. The thing is greatness doesn’t have an exact metric to be measured upon. Lyles knows that, and that’s why he continues to push the limit of what he’s capable of.

Very rarely do you see a 200m runner take on the 60m indoors. Oftentimes, they stick to the indoor 200m. Even the great Bolt never ran a race indoors and he’s still regarded as one of the greatest sprinters ever. But the limit Lyles is willing to push himself just to be seen as one of the best to run must be commended.

After his sojourn into running the 60m last season, one that propelled him to become the first man to win the 10mm/200m at the world championships since Bolt. Every year the indoor season gives us a powerful glimpse to see exactly what will happen in the next six or seven months, especially an Olympic year such as this.

Lyles laid down the gauntlet two weeks ago at the New Balance indoor meet as he stormed to a new Personal Best of 6.44s. It was still visible to many how slow he got off the blocks, but it didn’t matter as his top-end speed toward the end was just staggering. Peeling back the layers of this newfound form of Lyles, there is no doubt he will set the world on fire going into the outdoor season.

Getting a great indoor season under your belt is not necessarily a prerequisite to running fast during the outdoor season. But for Lyles, he needs it to steal a march on his rivals. After the New Balance meet, he had renewed vigor going into the National Indoors and after coming through his heat unscathed in a pretty modest 6.52s, it was the showdown against World record Holder Christian Coleman that was on the lips of many.

In the final, despite Coleman’s trademark explosive start, Lyles, the reigning world champion in both the 100m and 200m events, gradually closed the gap and surged past Coleman at the finish line in Albuquerque. Clocking in at 6.43s, Lyles secured the win by a mere hundredth of a second, achieving a personal best in the process. This victory marked Lyles’ first triumph in four career 60m finals against Coleman, whose world record in the event stands at 6.34 seconds since 2018.

Reflecting on his performance, Lyles expressed confidence in his ability to translate his improved indoor form into success during the outdoor season. He aims to lower his personal best in the 200m event from 19.31s to 19.10s, surpassing Bolt’s world record of 19.19s.

In a post-race interview on USATF’s “Cool Down” show, Lyles attributed his success to years of dedicated work on his start, acceleration, and overall performance in the first 60 meters of the race. With his recent progress in these areas, Lyles exuded confidence, asserting his dominance and sending a clear message to his competitors.

“If I hadn’t faced Christian so many times, I couldn’t have boosted my confidence enough to say, ‘I’m ready to come out here and take on everybody,’” Lyles, standing next to Coleman, told Lewis Johnson on NBC Sports. “So, I thank this man truly because he is who he is.”

Lyles knows he will only get better in the shorter distance, especially the 100m. This title here just proves it. But first, he still has the world indoors in Glasgow to get off his list. A win there will surely put him in the conversation as one of the greatest to ever do it. 

Editor’s note. On Friday, March 3, Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman tangled in Glasgow, with Christian Coleman taking gold and Noah Lyles taking the silver in the World Indoor Champs in Glasgow, as the US took 20 medals with a team of 57 athletes. The journey to Paris continues!