Noah Lyles: ‘I’m tired of people comparing me to Usain Bolt’

On the eve of the 47th edition of Athletissima, the athletes confide in their ambitions for the Lausanne meeting and look back on their performances this season between the European Championships in Munich and the World Championships in Eugene.

US sprint star Noah Lyles (25) is fed up with comparisons to Usain Bolt.

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“The idea of ​​achieving the triple in Munich (over 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m) came from my coach Laurent Meuwly. He told me that I have to believe in my chances and that’s how we started it. Whether it is possible to repeat it at the Olympics? It was already a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Europeans to score that hat-trick. At the Olympics, I have to start by winning a gold medal. It will be my first priority. My energy for Lausanne? Of course I’m tired physically or mentally, but I’m also happy and satisfied with everything I’ve achieved so far, which helps to forget the tiredness. Tomorrow (Friday) I feel like it’s going to be a great race when I see the opponents waiting for me and I remember the atmosphere the crowd created for Lea Sprunger’s final race last year. It was just extraordinary. So I’m really looking forward to this race.”

“It’s so satisfying to be able to win a world title multiple times (note: she won a 5th world 100m title in Eugene). For now, I’d rather enjoy the moment than think about other records, but what’s certain is that I’m already looking forward to 2023 son and my husband. I took the opportunity to have a few drinks, but I also used this time to rest and recharge my batteries. And here I am in Lausanne.”

“This season has been more complicated than expected, but it’s part of my story, my progression. I’m learning because I have a new system and a new trainer to learn from. I have to keep working hard and be patient, but my goal of one day winning gold at the World Championships hasn’t changed.

“I’ve worked extremely hard this season to allow myself this consistency and this level. I think my poor performance last year in the 200m, which is my favorite event, gave me a mental boost. As for tomorrow’s race, for me who loves competition, I can say that it’s looking good no matter who wins.

“I’m tired of people comparing me to Usain Bolt. Everyone has their own story, with ups and downs. At my age (25) Bolt had already set two world records, I hadn’t. I prepare for every race with the goal of beating one. I still have the same focus and discipline. I’ve trained very well over the past few weeks and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s competitions. The Pontaise circuit is very fast, there I set what was my personal best not too long ago (note: 19”50 in 2019). The 200m corner isn’t too bad, but I don’t find it exceptional in the sense that it’s narrow. The year 2021 was very bad for me, both in and outside of athletics. Most importantly, I missed my Tokyo Olympics (note: he did win bronze in the 200m though). My relatives and my therapists pushed me to continue my season. So at the beginning of this year I started highly motivated, with the will to achieve the best of all time.

“Because I’m the U18 and U20 world record holder in the 200m, everyone tells me I’m the next Usain Bolt, but no, I’m Erriyon and I’m making my own way. I don’t focus on time. My goal tomorrow will be to do a good race and win, that’s all. It’s my first time in Lausanne, but I heard that the track is very fast. I am therefore happy to discover this circuit and its famous corner. It wasn’t difficult for me to stay focused after the World Cup because this year, being very young, I discovered a lot of things, like this meeting, it was enough for me to stay focused and keep training well .”

“Last year we had a really good time at the City Event (note: organized by Flon) knowing that it was my first competition since my Olympic crown. This year is my first competition after my title at the European Championships, so I hope it will bring me luck that we will have good conditions and a great competition. As a high jumper, we always have a bit of sore muscles. Mutaz, who I consider a brother, and I had the same injury and were very supportive of each other. I learned a lot from that time, I understood that you have to keep believing in yourself and moving forward.

“I would like to share a memory of Lausanne with you. In 2012, just after the London Olympics, where I had suffered with back problems but still won bronze, which was worth gold at the time, my only wish was to return home. However, my coach convinced me to come to Lausanne. When we got here, a large box of chocolates was waiting for us. So I ate it just before going to the stadium, where I broke the meeting record and the Asian outdoor record (2.39m). So I said to myself, “Chocolate is the key to jumping high.” But I came back here a few years later, did the same thing again and the chocolate magic didn’t work. So it wasn’t chocolate that made the difference in 2012. Enough joking, I am very happy to be back here in Lausanne.”

“I like to run fast. I’ve run all my life so I know what I have to do. I enjoy varying my strategies in the race. It’s a fun way to get closer to winning. After my doubles at the European Championships over 1,500m and 5,000m, I’m also interested in reaching the treble over 10,000m. If the program of a meeting allows it, I think it’s possible. The timing was perfect in Munich, but I didn’t manage to reach the minimums on the third distance. I was stopped by the coronavirus when it came to tackling it. Tomorrow’s race promises to be fast in good weather conditions. The aim will then be to have a good time and above all to have fun.”

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