Is Noah Lyles Going To Be The Next Usain Bolt?

By Nolan Jez - - Analysis

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This isn't high school track anymore for Noah Lyles.

The T.C. Williams (VA) graduate is legitimately one of the fastest men in the world right now. The Virginia native won the USA championships at 100 meters on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, running a world leading 9.88 seconds, ousting Nike's Ronnie Baker (9.90) in the final meters. He has two of the top three times in the world as well, having run 9.89 in the semifinals. 

After forgoing his collegiate career and going professional with Adidas straight out of high school, Lyles made the decision to make his next decade about one thing: Olympic gold. 

And he's sure pretty on target to plan right now. 

His quest for gold in Tokyo will begin around this time in two years at the Olympic Trials and hopefully will be followed with him running for gold in front of 68,000 fans and an audience well into the millions. 

In the track community, his 100 meter race will be about him and roughly five other guys with legitimate shots at the title--but the world could be comparing him to none other than Usain Bolt

Honestly, that is the price of trying to be the fastest man in the world and it's what you'll get when you're trying to win the world title at 100 meters. 

Noah is only 20 years old but already has put up more impressive times over the 100 (9.89) and 200 (19.69) than Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, or Carl Lewis did by the same age.

Frankly, he is on pace to be one of the greatest sprinters ever -- if he can continue on this torrid stretch.  

However, while time comparisons are great, they are not everything. So we want to dig a little deeper into previous gold medalists and what made them special and how they differ from Noah.

The first thing that comes to mind is that, physically, Noah is smaller and skinnier than many of the other sprinters. He is roughly 6-feet, shorter than both Gatlin (6-foot-1) and Bolt (6-foot-5) but taller than former World Record Holder Maurice Greene (5-foot-9). Of course, physical stature doesn't mean everything to a sprinter, but height and stride length definitely play a big part in success over this distance. Remember, Lyles was also a 6-foot-8 high jumper in high school, which speaks to his remarkable athleticism. 

The second thing that comes to mind is experience. He has raced some quick guys across his career, but nothing he's done would truly emulate anything he'll face at the Olympics; the world stage is a whole other ball game. His closest experience came in 2016 when he finished fourth in the US Olympic Trials at 200 meters, just months after his final high school state meet.  Lyles also won at 100 meters at the U20 Championships in Poland in 2016, hitting 10.16 (+0.2) on the clock. 

Only until recently, however, has he started to flourish at the national senior level. 

The final thing is his ability to win. You can fault him for less experienced, but you cannot fault him for not performing best when it matters most. He's a consummate winner and knows what it takes to win in either race. If he's to become like Bolt, he'll have to continue to prove that throughout his career. 

And so 2020 is the make or break year for Noah. If he is able to enter the Olympic Games as the favorite at 100 meters title--not only for the US team but on a world stage --then you are talking about Lyles entering a pantheon of legendary sprinters before him.

He could be the face of the Games. 

What this means is that the 100 meter Olympic final is an all or nothing game.

You've either got it or you're just fighting for a silver medal.

Right now, though, it looks like Noah Lyles has it. 

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Noah Lyles Career Timeline In 100 Since 2016
OUTDOORPR: 9.92 Graph
9.923.4USATF Outdoor Championships2ndPrelims>
9.954.3NTC/Pure Athletics Spring Invitational1stPrelims>
10.170.22016 IAAF World U20 Championships1stFinals>
10.170.22016 IAAF World U20 Championships1stFinals>
10.220.22016 IAAF World U20 Championships1stSemis>
10.220.22016 IAAF World U20 Championships1stSemis>
10.082.2USATF Junior National Outdoor T&F Championships1stFinals>
10.202.5USATF Junior National Outdoor T&F Championships1stPrelims>
10.71VHSL Group 5A/6A State Outdoor T&F Championships1stPrelims>
10.140.9VHSL Group 6A North Region Outdoor T&F Championship1stFinals>
10.461.2VHSL Group 6A North Region Outdoor T&F Championship1stPrelims>
10.171.2Arcadia Invitational1stFinals>