“It's nothing that we can't get through”: Sprint king Lyles staying positive
American sprinter Noah Lyles – a Youth Olympic Games and world champion over 200m – reveals how he is focusing on maintaining his fitness and staying healthy following the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Q. How did you feel when the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were postponed?
A. It was a little relief to see that it's been decided to postpone the Olympic Games because my first concern was [whether] everybody would be healthy, and everybody would have a fair place to compete. To actually see it being delayed gives me a little bit of security, knowing that the Olympics [organisers are] worried about everybody, and not just to try and keep everybody in good health and good spirits. And then also seeing that World Athletics is in support of that, again, it makes me feel good about my sport. It's nice to see that everybody's trying to do their part to just move around with this crisis that we're dealing with. But again, it's nothing that we can't get through and it's just [about] taking every day one step at a time.
Q. How have you had to adjust your goals for 2020 now that the Games have been postponed?
A. My goals for 2020… Right now we are just in that situation where we're trying to figure out if we are going to just maintain fitness. And then if the Diamond League or any of these bigger track meets decide that they're going to be holding meets, we'll train for that. Of course, figuring out how we're going to get ready for the Olympics next year is our biggest plan. But we still want to maintain fitness and we still want to be able to have some type of a season. Just because the Olympics are gone doesn't mean I won’t want to run. My first love is running, so I want to do that.
Q. How have you had to adjust your training due to the lockdown measures that are in place?
A. It's definitely weird and different. I've asked all my team-mates, "Is this the most adventurous season you've ever had?" And most of them have said, "Yes." We are able to do a little bit. It's very weird. We're in groups of six, and we're all coming at different times and training in a park. So not a lot we can do, just a little bit of running on the grass; it's a little bit of biometrics. It's all about an hour or two and then you go back to quarantine. But it's a little bit of something, just to not go a little crazy.
We can't really sprint because we're on grass. Grass is really taking out a lot of your force into the ground. And it's kind of a softer grass, so it's really hard to basically do anything. And again, it's a park area and it's really like a trail. It's not so much an open field. It's more like random spots that are just open in the woods. So it's been very limited. We found a little spot for us to do drills and maybe do some warming up, and just trying running on the trail for maybe about 300 metres tops. But there's hills in the middle of that, so it's not flat. You're not going to be out and going all out on this trail, especially if you have people walking dogs and stuff like that.
Q. How else have you been keeping busy during this time? Do you have any hobbies?
A. In terms of hobbies, I've really just been doubling down on my video games and a little bit of music. Me and my friend have been working on a song recently. I'm getting really close to finishing up an EP actually, which I was planning to release in the next few months here, and it's given me a lot of time to focus on that. Other than that, it's just been me playing video games with my friends, trying to stay connected, get that little bit of social interaction.
Also, just getting out of the house a little bit. Not enough to be spreading anything, but just getting out a little bit at a time in a day. Staying a little bit in your fitness because we don't know how long this will last, but staying fit, not going crazy and just pigging out and eating whatever you want to. But just keeping that little bit of fitness going, just so whenever we are able to go ahead and train at full speed again, we'll be ready.
Q. How much do you think the delay to the Games and the other measures that are in place will affect you and other athletes?
A. I can't speak on others. I can only speak for myself, but I have a really strong team right now. I've got a great agent, a lot of good medical people around me, and we are right now just trying to stay fit, trying to stay ready for when the opportunity comes up [so] that we'll be ready to go ahead and move forward. I have confidence that everybody in this team is thinking the same way. I just really hope that everybody's just making the right steps, trying to quarantine themselves but also stay sane. It can be a little boring in the house. But I think everybody's been making real good safety decisions going forward with the IOC and with World Athletics now and even seeing the USATF [USA Track & Field]: they were very concerned about their athletes, and it makes you feel good when your sport, your governing body, is really on your side. Trying to make sure that everybody gets fair play.
Q. How concerned have you been about staying healthy during this time?
A. I've been really keeping up on my health, because I am [someone with] a risk factor, dealing with allergies and having asthma; it does make your immune system kind of weak. But I've been really keeping a close eye on my diet and just my health overall. Making sure that I do the right things, washing my hands constantly. Because just by washing your hands you can get rid of a lot of germs very easily, very quickly and very simply. But it is a little bit scary because I did have swine flu back in the day, so I know that my body is susceptible to catching it maybe a bit easier than others, but that's why I’ve just got to work it harder.
Q. We’ve seen you win the 200m at the Youth Olympic Games and the World Championships. Are you still hoping to also compete in the 100m at next year’s Games in Tokyo?
A. Yes. I'm still training for the double. I'm still 100 per cent going for the 100 and the 200 next year.