Why do we enjoy the 200 meters so much?
The 200 meters is half of the traditional 400 meters, a normal lap on a rather normal track. When I asked Coach Lance Brauman about the differences between 100 meter and 200 meter sprinters, the reknowned coach gave me a look only someone who has spent time with Coach Brauman could understand. Lance responded, ” No, they are just sprinters.” A sprint coach such as Lance Brauman’s job is to simplify the complex and help athletes with bad habits correct them. He is constantly observing.
Watch the 200 meters from Lausanne. Savor it. It was a superb bit of racing and the real birth of an exciting rivalry, between Noah Lyles and Micheal Norman.
In a recent interview with Coach Brauman on Noah Lyles, we learned that Noah Lyles impressed Coach Brauman with his ability to handle the rounds at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
After the 100 meters in Des Moines, in June 2018, I spoke to Coach Brauman about how Noah Lyles brought himself back into the race, as Ronnie Baker was putting on the pressure around 60 meters. “We teach our athletes how to execute and not panic, but that is a skill Noah Lyles has had for some time.” Noah Lyles had a less than spectacular start in the USATF final, and did not panic, bringing himself back into the 100 meters. Ronnie Baker was into his race plan, and executing it quite well. As Baker neared 60 meters, a kean observer would have given the race to Ronnie Baker. Again, at 60 meters, Noah Lyles ran himself back into the race, did not panic and focused on the task at hand: to catch Ronnie Baker and reach the finish before Baker. Around 90 meters, the pressure on both intensified, as Lyles took over the race, running a PB of 9.88. Ronnie Baker did not give up, running a PB of 9.90 (at Paris, Baker ran a PB of 9.88, as the sprint wars continue).
Now, let’s move to the 200 meters in Lausanne. This was a big race, dubbed by some as the Race of the Summer. Noah Lyles, who has won Pre Classic in 19.69, with Micheal Norman, who just ran 19.84 in Paris and 43.06 over 400 meters, fast finisher Alex Quinonez (Ecuador) and Norman’s USC team mate, Rai Benjamin.
Halfway into the race, Micheal Norman was in control, running relaxed, and Noah Lyles had a bit of real estate to make up. In fact, global commentator Tim Hutchings noted that Norman was in the lead and Noah Lyles had some work ahead of him. This is where Noah Lyles excels. Over that last 80 meters, Noah Lyles focused, putting pressure on Micheal Norman and Lyles, just as he did in Des Moines, ran his opponent down.
Noah Lyles took control with 20 meters to go, and ran hard, waiting to do his dance post race (thank you Noah, you do not want me going off on celebrating before the finish line). Noah Lyles ran 19.69. Lyles equalled his PB and equalled the world leader.
Many sprinters would have panicked. Noah Lyles seems to relish the challenge. He does not bear down, he seems to relax and go into another gear. As he closes in on his opponent, the confidence builds and he dominates the finish. How fast can he go? A good question. He is obviously not near his limit.
After the race, Coach Brauman noted: ” Noah got crossed up in the turn, but recovered well. I really liked his last 80 meters.” That is high praise from the coach of Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Shakima Wimbley, Jazmin Sawyers, Tyson Gay, Mathew Hudson-Smith, Alonso Edward, Machel Cedenio, Josephus Lyles and yes, Noah Lyles, among others.
The wins at the Pre Classic 200 meters and Lausanne, plus the USA title shows a sprinter who is fit, focused and comfortable in his own skin.
Watch this young athlete, as he gives us glimpses of what he could become over the next decade. One other point needs to be made about Noah. He truly enjoys competing and has fun with social media, where his young fans live and breathe. His joie de vivre, in regards to competing is real. We may be seeing someone who can transcend the sport of athletics.