US sprinter Noah Lyles said he was focused solely on nailing down gold in the 200m at the World Athletics Championships and not chasing Usain Bolt’s elusive world record.
The 22-year-old on Friday claimed victory in a “chaotic” 200m at the Diamond League final in Brussels in 19.74 seconds, ensuring him of a second payday of US$50,000, having won the 100m title last week in Zurich.
However, Lyles will only race the 200m at the Worlds in Doha from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6.
“I’m very excited about the win,” Lyles said after the Brussels victory, which never looked in doubt, despite him discovering a desperate need to go to the toilet before the race — something that had to wait until he had crossed the finish line.
“I’ve got the 100, now the 200m, so now it’s the World Championships,” he said.
Lyles added he was not concerned by a much-touted potential tilt at Bolt’s world 200m record of 19.19 seconds set at the 2009 Berlin World Championships.
“I’m not thinking about the world record,” he said. “If you get too caught up chasing the world record, you’re not going to get it.”
However, in a broadside to rivals ahead of the Worlds, Lyles said his aim was to better his personal best of 19.5 seconds, set in Lausanne this summer and a time that makes him the fourth-fastest of all time over the half-lap race.
“That’s definitely the plan,” he said. “I have three weeks of training to produce the fastest time possible ... and there’s no doubt in my mind, to come away with a gold medal.”
Current world and European champion Ramil Guliyev showed some signs of hitting form at just the right time, pushing Lyles over the last 50m right through to the line.
The Turk eventually finished second in 19.86 seconds, 0.01 seconds ahead of Canadian Andre de Grasse.
Guliyev said that the “conditions were not that good,” albeit enough for him to set a season’s best.
“It was very cold and the track is very hard to run,” the Azeri-born sprinter said. “I am not used to this kind of weather, because it is very warm in my home country.”
De Grasse echoed his sentiments, saying: “It will be completely different in Doha.”
The Canadian, 200m silver medalist and bronze medalist in both the 100m and 4x100m relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was also left satisfied with having notched up a season’s best.
“It’s a good sign for Doha,” he said. “I’m close to my PB [personal best] from a few seasons ago. When the weather gets great I want to go fast.”
Unlike Lyles, there was one athlete on show who will do the sprint double at Doha: Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith.
The European champion set a season’s best of 10.88 seconds, edging out former Olympic and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for an impressive victory in the women’s 100m.
“Don’t call me favorite for the world championships in the 100m,” Asher-Smith said. “It was like British weather and I just took my chance.”
“The world champs will be completely different: another climate, a series of races you can’t compare that with this evening’s race,” Asher-Smith added.
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