What Can Noah Lyles Do In A Full Season?

by Sieg Lindstrom

He raced just 6 times outdoors in his first pro campaign, 5 of those outings before he turned 20, but Noah Lyles closed the ’17 campaign triumphantly hugging a Belgian Smurf mascot after winning the 200’s Diamond League crown.

How can he top that in ’18? Six ways to Sunday, it would seem if you talk to him. Given a full healthy year, Lyles intends to show us what that means.

“Overall impression?” Lyles asks for clarification when queried about ’17. “I had a blast. This is my dream. I’m living my dream right now.”

In his first post-high school campaign Lyles took the 300 World Record down to 31.87 indoors.

Outdoors he World Ranked No. 2 in the 200 after a 19.90 Shanghai DL win, an untimely injury that scratched him from his USATF semi and then an out- of-lane-9 victory in Brussels.

“Even though I had a low with the injury, a little bit of a hamstring tweak, I was still able to have a strong team around me and we were able to come back for the last Diamond League meet and just pull out a win,” he says.

Throughout Lyles’ 2-month-plus break from the circuit to heal his leg, ’18 and the rest of his future was consideration No. 1. Prudent in that the post-Bolt 200 era has begun and the half-lap’s leadership spot is up for grabs.

“We didn’t want to have a relapse, ”Lyles says. “We didn’t want to have an injury that we have to nurse back going into the next season.” As such, Lyles and his Clermont, Florida-based coach Lance Brauman dropped planned meets—including the Birmingham DL—until they felt secure, and Lyles squeaked into the DL final on the points from his Shanghai win.

As he loosened up in Brussels, Lyles recalls, “It was raining and damp, I had all my warm clothes on, listening to my music. I’m getting excited and I’m running down the track and warming up and I took off my earphones and I looked at my coach and I said, ‘Coach, we made the right decision. All the meets that we pulled out of are going to pay off today.’

“And I said, ‘I’m gonna win this race.’ And I’m looking at everybody, I’m looking at the world champ [Ramil Guliyev] watching him do his blocks. I’m looking at Ameer Webb and watching him do his, and I’m also looking at Nethaneel Mitchell- Blake and watching him do his, and I’m like, ‘No, I’m gonna win this race.’ ” When his stretch drive carried him home 0.01 in front of Webb with Guliyev another tick behind, Lyles had proven himself right. “And then I went over and hugged the Smurf, he says, “because my mom “had told me, ‘If you win you have to smug the Smurf.’ ”

The coming season will see an improved Noah Lyles, he predicts, because ’18’s learning curve has already proven gentler than last year’s.

A year ago, he says, “We were just learning how to lift. Lifting was one of the bigger things because we didn’t do a lot when we were in high school.”

Fast forward through a year of Brauman’s regimen alongside his training partner brother, Josephus, and Lyles notes, “A few weeks ago, I was doing power cleans and I looked at my weightlifting coach and I said, ‘Wow! This is so different now that I don’t have to learn how to lift.’

“It’s really exciting to go into this next season. Now I know I have a base where last year I didn’t.

“There was a point in the fall training [last year] where I didn’t wake up and I wasn’t sore.”

Lyles expects further exploration of his potential this year, and not just in the 200, in which he was disappointed to equal, not succeed, the then-world lead with his PR in Shanghai.

This past October, he says, “I was sitting there in the weightroom and I turned to my coach and I said, ‘Coach, I want to be the World Indoor 60 champion.’

“And he said, ‘Good, that’s what I want too.’ Alright, we’re on the same page. And my weightroom coach was there and he said, ‘Yeah, I’d like that too.’ “Good, good, good, we’re all on the same page. Let’s get to work.”

Lyles is clear: “I feel like I have a lot more to give and with the program I’m in with Coach Lance Brauman, I feel like we can definitely reach that potential.”

February 15, 2018

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