athletics“Noah Lyles can pull off a stunt at Athletissima!”
Lance Brauman, coach of Noah Lyles, is convinced that the US star can match Usain Bolt’s world record at Athletissima this Friday. The two men have been preparing for the meeting in La Pontaise for a week.
At Pontaise, young athletes from Lausanne-Sports Athlétisme have to pinch themselves: “Wow, that’s Noah Lyles!” The American sprint star landed in Lausanne on Wednesday 17 August to prepare for this Friday’s Athletissima meeting at the Olympic Stadium. The training session that takes place before our eyes lasts about 1h30 and is similar to that of a virtuoso studying his scales.
The steps are precise, the step is getting faster and faster. Lance Brauman’s whistle sends the American missile into the air. Trinidadian athlete Jereem Richards, present at the Pontaise that day, films Lyles’ descent in “slow motion” before making corrections.
The 25-year-old American won his second world title in the 200 meters last month in Eugene (USA) with a time of 19:31. That’s one-hundredth faster than Michael Johnson’s American record (Atlanta Olympics 1996). Usain Bolt’s world record (19”19) is getting closer and his coach Lance Brauman, who is with him in Lausanne, is convinced: Noah Lyles can hit hard this Friday. The person who also trains the Bahamas Shaunae Miller-Uibo (double Olympic champion over 400m) and the German Gina Lückenkemper (youngest European champion over 100m) talks about the preparations behind the scenes.
Lance Brauman, your athlete Noah Lyles completed the race of his life a month ago…
We must always remain critical because there are inevitably elements that need to be improved. The weather wasn’t perfect for the race, it was great, but the wind could have been more favourable, for example. Technically, however, Noah drove a very clean race. Maybe he could have been even better at corner transitions.
Despite that, he seems to be in the form of his life, right?
Noah really is in excellent shape, yes! He proved it to the world, he’s having an incredible season with that second world title. We are very satisfied with the athletics meeting.
Is it an advantage to have arrived in Lausanne a week earlier?
Being there so early is an advantage, that’s for sure. A return to the USA was not possible anyway, since the competitions in Europe are linked. We spent a few days at the European Championships in Munich to follow some of the athletes in the group. And then we came to train here in Pontaise and live in Lausanne for a week in this beautiful environment.
What exactly are you working on here?
Repetition of technical elements. A lot of work was done before the season. Then the competitions followed. There we focus on details that need to be improved, but also on points that need to be worked on in the next season. Before that, we want to end the season very strongly.
Exactly, what are your short-term goals?
With Noah, it’s better not to talk about the time, but to focus on the race. To improve his technique and all aspects related to it. To keep learning and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. After that, if he’s in the form he is, he can set special lap times. It just has to take its course, stay in it flow and it will come naturally. You don’t have to think about it too much. In Lausanne, Noah ran 19”50 (Note: 2019), he is very excited to find this track. Let’s hope that the conditions are favorable, that the audience is loud. He could well score a punch there!
Like breaking Usain Bolt’s world record?
It would be wonderful! I hope so, but it’s not just about how fit the athlete is. The conditions must also be taken into account. The wind has to blow from the right direction. There are a lot of external factors but Noah is in great shape and very excited to be racing in Lausanne.
How would you describe the personality of Noah Lyles?
He’s a very easygoing guy. He likes to train, he loves his sport and everything related to it. He’s becoming more and more of a “student” in the sense that he really wants to improve. And that is the key for him to continue to be successful.
He is also a dedicated athlete, particularly dedicated to fighting racial discrimination and raising public awareness of mental health. Have you noticed a change in his mood over the past few months?
Noah received an excellent education, he has many values. With the pandemic and then the Black Lives Matter movement, times have been difficult for many people. And everyone reacts differently. He’s clearer in spirit and sort of ‘the old Noah Lyles’ again who loves to get out on the track. And there he is the best!
You lead a large group of successful athletes. How do you deal with these stars?
It is inevitably a huge privilege. Even the best coach is nobody without a title winner. All great champions were and are part of successful training groups. You need strong partners who encourage each other to achieve top performance. It’s a collaboration until the day of the competition, when everyone is on their own. In our group, for example, several athletes, men and women, show very good performances in the 200 meters. This makes everyone aware of what is missing in order to reach the next level by looking at the other. And it allows them to improve their times.
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