World Champs Men’s 200 — Lyles Breaks AR

A 19.31 by Noah Lyles led teammates Kenny Bednarek & Erriyon Knighton to a U.S. sweep. (KEVIN MORRIS)

FOR MANY, the men’s furlong would be the eagerly-awaited rematch between Noah Lyles and teenage challenger Erriyon Knighton, whom he beat by just 0.02 in a much talked-about finish at USATF. But for Lyles it was simply a race against history.

The defending champion captured the gold in an American Record 19.31 to become the third-fastest human ever.

On his 25th birthday, Lyles had led the heats with his 19.98, while Knighton won his in 20.01. In the semis, Lyles stunned at 19.62 (1.1 wind), history’s fastest non-final, with Knighton at 19.77 (0.3) and four others under 20.

Ever the showman, as he was introduced to the crowd for the final, Lyles closed his eyes and raised his hands to the sky, as if summoning the power of Valhalla. He stood in lane 6. Knighton ended up in the tighter confines of lane 3. Between them were Dominican find (19.91 semi) Alexander Ogando in 4 and Kenny Bednarek in 5. To Lyles’ right, in 7, was Liberia’s Joe Fahnbulleh.

At the gun, Lyles exploded out of the blocks and tore into the turn, running the curve as never before. Observers kept falling back on one word to describe it: “flying.” At halfway in 10.15, he convincingly led Bednarek (10.26) and Knighton (10.31). Behind the Americans, Fahnbulleh (10.36) battled Canada’s Aaron Brown (10.38).

Off the turn, Lyles had the momentum of a runaway train that no one could stop. He continued to accelerate, covering his final 100 in an unreal 9.16. Bednarek closed in 9.51 to hold off the slightly faster finish of Knighton (9.49) and score the silver in 19.77, with Knighton completing the U.S. sweep in 19.80. Florida star Fahnbulleh closed fastest of the mortals, his 9.48 bringing him a 19.84 but no podium. Ogando passed Trinidad’s Jereem Richards and Brown in the homestretch for 5th in 19.93.

The sensor time flashed 19.32 for Lyles, a mark that would tie Michael Johnson’s AR from the Atlanta Olympics; he walked toward the clock, shouting in frustration. Then came the official posting at 19.31, and the celebration commenced. Lyles shouted in joy, slapped the track repeatedly, then tore off his jersey.

“I was begging it to change,” admitted Lyles. “I was like, ‘Come on, don’t do this to me, please?’ And then I turn around and I hear the crowd go into an uproar, and I’m like, ‘What? What happened?’ And then I looked up at the big screen, and it said ‘31,’ and I just went ballistic.”

It was the first sweep of a Worlds 200 since Justin Gatlin led the U.S. in ’05. Never before in the Worlds or Olympics has it been done with a different slate of medal winners than swept the 100.

“I got the best start I could possibly ask for,” said Lyles. “The race was basically set up for me. I was given lane 6. To be honest, every step was purposeful, going out with intent to win. I’ve given my all. I literally had nothing left after I crossed the finishline.”

Bednarek revealed a broken toe gave him some doubts early in the season. “Just to be able to make it to the finals and now I have a silver medal again, I’m excited about that. Last year we had the opportunity to sweep the medal podium but Andre [De Grasse] took that away from us. So to be able to complete it this year, it is an amazing experience.”

Knighton, who became the youngest 200 medalist in meet history, said, “From the blocks, I had a slight messup and that kind of threw my race off, but I got a medal. Being the youngest medalist ever, coming out here and finishing the sweep for my team, getting on the podium, there’s not much I can ask for other than this.”


MEN’S 200 RESULTS

FINAL

(July 21; wind +0.4)

(temperature 77F/25C; humidity 57%)

1. Noah Lyles (US) 19.31 AR (old AR 19.32 Michael Johnson [Nike] ’96) (WL) (3, 4 W)

(10.15/9.16);

2. Kenny Bednarek (US) 19.77

(10.26/9.51);

3. Erriyon Knighton (US) 19.80

(10.31/9.49);

4. Joe Fahnbulleh (Lbr) 19.84

(10.36/9.48);

5. Alexander Ogando (DR) 19.93

(10.43/9.50);

6. Jereem Richards (Tri) 20.08

(10.41/9.67);

7. Aaron Brown (Can) 20.18

(10.38/9.80);

8. Luxolo Adams (SA) 20.47

(10.51/9.96).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 4, =5, 6)

(lanes: 1. Adams; 2. Richards; 3. Knighton; 4. Ogando; 5. Bednarek; 6. Lyles; 7. Fahnbulleh; 8. Brown)

(reaction times: 0.118 Adams, 0.124 Richards, 0.127 Ogando, 0.141 Lyles, 0.143 Bednarek & Brown, 0.151 Fahnbulleh, 0.153 Knighton)

HEATS (July 18)

I(1.0)–1. Fahnbulleh 20.12; 2. Koki Ueyama (Jpn) 20.26 PR; 3. Jerome Blake (Can) 20.30; 4. Joe Ferguson (GB) 20.33; 5. Joseph Amoah (Gha) 20.40; 6. Lucas da Silva (Bra) 20.90;… dq—Terrence Talio (PNG).

II(0.0)–1. Richards 20.35; 2. Brown 20.60; 3. Shota Iizuka (Jpn) 20.72; 4. Shaun Maswanganyi (SA) 20.79; 5. Simon Hansen (Den) 20.80; 5. Shainer Reginfo (Cub) 20.80; 7. Joseph Green (Gum) 22.04 PR.

III(2.1)–1. Knighton 20.01w; 2. Adams 20.10w; 3. Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (GB) 20.11w; 4. Yancarlos Martinez (DR) 20.13w; 5. Akeem Bloomfield (Jam) 20.56w; 6. Sibusiso Matsenjwa (Swa) 20.60w; 7. Tinotenda Matiyenga (Zim) 20.72w.

IV(0.5)–1. Ogando 20.01 NR; 2. Bednarek 20.35; 3. Tarsis Orogot (Uga) 20.44; 4. Eseosa Desalu (Ita) 20.63; 5. Mouhamadou Fall (Fra) 20.83; 6. Hachim Maaroufou (Com) 20.91;… dq—Marcos Santos (Ang).

V(0.4)–1. Fred Kerley (US) 20.17; 2. Sinesipho Dambile (SA) 20.29 PR; 3. Udodi Onwuzurike (Ngr) 20.34; 4. Yohan Blake (Jam) 20.35; 5. William Reais (Swi) 20.71; 6. Aidan Murphy (Aus) 20.75.

VI(1.0)–1. Filippo Tortu (Ita) 20.18; 2. Guy Maganga Gorra (Gab) 20.44 NR; 3. Calab Law (Aus) 20.50 PR; 4. Adam Gemili (GB) 20.60; 5. Alonso Edward (Pan) 22.08.

VII(-0.3)–1. Lyles 19.98; 2. Rasheed Dwyer (Jam) 20.29; 3. Zhenye Xie (Chn) 20.30; 4. Owen Ansah (Ger) 20.52; 5. Eric Harrison (Tri) 20.54; 6. Lucas Vilar (Bra) 20.65; 7. Jan Jirka (CzR) 20.73.

SEMIS (July 19)

I(-0.1)–1. Ogando 19.91 NR; 2. Fahnbulleh 19.92; 3. J. Blake 20.29; 4. Mitchell-Blake 20.30; 5. Dambile 20.47; 6. Kerley 20.68; 7. Iizuka 20.77;… dnc—Y. Blake.

II(1.1)–1. Lyles 19.62 (x, =9 A) (fastest prelim ever);

2. Bednarek 19.84; 3. Richards 19.86; 4. Adams 20.09; 5. Orogot 20.35; 6. Onwuzurike 20.39; 7. Ferguson 20.52; 8. Gorra 20.65.

III(0.3)–1. Knighton 19.77; 2. Brown 20.10; 3. Tortu 20.10 PR (fastest non-q ever); 4. Martinez 20.21; 5. Xie 20.41; 6. Ueyama 20.48; 7. Law 20.72; 8. Dwyer 20.87.

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