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Noah Lyles says he has ‘way more to give’ on his quest to become the fastest man in history


By Amanda Davies, Aleks Klosok and George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — Noah Lyles is not a man short on confidence.

Having won three world championship titles last year, the American sprinter has since laid out grand plans for his career, even setting his sights on Usain Bolt’s records in the 100 and 200 meters.

“He was the fastest man ever to do it,” says Lyles, before adding with a grin, “and soon, it’ll be me.”

Some would call this hubris, others the swagger of a top athlete entering his prime in an Olympic year. Lyles has emerged as a star of the track and field world in recent years, a likeable figure who isn’t afraid to talk up his chances at big races.

And with the Paris Games on the horizon, the 26-year-old has cast his net wide. Historically a 200m specialist, he won his first world championship title over 100m last year in Budapest and an indoor silver medal over 60m earlier this month in Glasgow.

The latter isn’t an event staged at the Olympics, but throw in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays and Lyles could target four different disciplines in Paris, an unprecedented breadth of ambition for a sprinter.

“We worked on the 60 to help my 100 and my 200 and we’ve seen major progression in that,” he tells CNN Sport.

“I’m extremely excited to see what it’s going to look like outdoors. Because of that, it just keeps the confidence going up and up and up. We’ll go outside and I’ll just have fun with it.”

Lyles established himself as the fastest man in the world at last year’s world championships, winning the 100m with a personal best time of 9.83 seconds before claiming a third-straight crown in the 200m.

Getting closer to Bolt’s world records of 9.58 and 19.19 – Lyles is third on the 200m all-time list with 19.31 – will require patience and improvement, though many would argue that the Jamaican’s legacy as the greatest ever won’t be challenged by the current generation of sprint stars.

Lyles, for his part, thinks that he has a different approach to Bolt, an eight-time Olympic champion who retired in 2017.

“When it was time to show up, he showed up, he got it done,” says Lyles. “I’m kind of more the guy who likes to assert his dominance throughout the whole year.”

During the past indoor season, Lyles lowered his best 60m time to 6.43 seconds, then ran a fraction slower than that as he finished second behind compatriot Christian Coleman in the world championship final.

Another silver followed in the 4x400m relay – Lyles’ second official performance in the event – and now he is stepping up his preparation for the outdoor season, chiefly the Olympics.

“To be honest, I think these last three years have all been build-ups,” he says. “Now, if we look at last year in 2023, it was: ‘Okay, this is the blueprint for 2024.’ We nailed that so well, that now we’re just in an automatic pilot mode.”

The main reason for his success last year, Lyles adds, was upping his intensity in the weight room.

“I’ve been lifting a lot more,” he says. “Not to say that I wasn’t lifting already, it’s just that the attitude towards the weight room has increased – more aggression, more weight, a lot more emphasis on that.

“I’ve done so great everywhere else that this was the last place that we really had to increase it.”

Lyles’ progress hasn’t always been as smooth as his speed out of the starting blocks. Indeed, he was a strong favorite to win 200m gold ahead of the Tokyo Olympics three years ago, but despite running a strong bend, he faded towards the end of the race and finished third.

It took a string of world championship titles for Lyles to re-establish himself as the world’s dominant sprinter, though he is eager to prove himself on the biggest stage in Paris later this year.

“After Tokyo, I just had that fire, and it’s increased my drive that much more,” he says. “Every time I get on the track, every world championship, every race I get into, everybody can see that that wasn’t my goal and that I have way more to give.

“I’m now going into Paris saying, ‘Hey, not only am I here to prove that race was a fluke, but I’ve got more races, I’ve got more events. And I’m coming after more than just one event.’”

As one of his sport’s headline stars, Lyles has a long-time, recently-extended contract with Adidas, among other brands, and often speaks of his interests – fashion and music – beyond the track.

He caused a stir among some well-known basketball names last year when he questioned why NBA championship-winning players referred to themselves as world champions, quipping: “World champion of what? The United States?”

That prompted Kevin Durant to suggest somebody “help this brother,” while Aaron Gordon joked, “I’m smoking buddy in the 200m.”

Lyles, though, saw the reaction as a positive reflection on what he had just achieved: a first-ever world championship title in the 100m. “When I got the title of world’s fastest man, now all of a sudden people perk up their ears like, ‘The world’s fastest man said that? I can’t believe you would say something like that,’” says Lyles.

“I already had three world championship gold medals under my belt, but as soon as you get the title of the world’s fastest man, now people are like, ‘Oh shoot. He’s somebody.’”

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