Noah Lyles wins men's World Championship 200m in new American record as US men sweep the podium

The 25-year-old athlete finishes in 19.31 to become the third-fastest man in history, behind only Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Kenny Bednarek takes silver and Erriyon Knighton bronze. 

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

The USA's Noah Lyles put in a scintillating performance to win the men's 200m race at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. The 25-year-old was in a class of his own as he stormed to victory in a US sweep that included Kenny Bednarek in second and 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton who won bronze.

Lyles, the defending world champion, came into the race as the fastest qualifier, but faced a stiff challenge from the young Knighton who earlier this year had become the fourth-fastest man in history with a time of 19.49.

However, Lyles has now leapfrogged Knighton and US legend Michael Johnson to become the fastest US athlete of all time and the third-fastest man of any nation behind Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

While Lyles had won the world title three years ago in Doha, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 had not gone to plan, as he finished third behind Canada's Andre de Grasse and Bednarek in the final. Since then, the emergence of Knighton had also seen some of the usual spotlight turned away from him, as the world contemplated the rise of a new sprint king.

Nevertheless, Lyles is not one to be bowed, and he ran with supreme confidence throughout the rounds in Oregon, even setting the 21st-fastest time ever in the semi-finals with 19.62.

And the best was yet to come.

In front of an elated home crowd at Hayward Field, the 25-year-old cemented his place in athletics history with a run that will live long in the memory.

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"I was truly in form for a world record, but I am Ok with the American record," Lyles said after the race. "I felt I got the best start I could possibly ask for. The race was basically set up for me. I was given lane six, an outside lane. 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 finish line."

And on becoming the third-fastest 200m runner of all time, the Florida native had this to say.

"There's a big difference between being number 4 and number 3. When I ran 19.50 I remember saying how the heck Michael Johnson ran 19.30s? And then how did they get it to 19.2 and then 19.19?

"Then I said, let's not to worry about it. When the time comes and the time finally came."

Michael Johnson, the man whose record Lyles broke today, was in the crowd to see the young American run and went to the track to congratulate him after the race had ended.

"I was telling him [Johnson] how many times I was in Tokyo watching his 19.32 world record, being broken out of lane 3. Because I was in lane 3 (in Tokyo) so I was like 'I'm going to make it happen'. I was telling him I was really thankful to be able to break somebody as great as his record.

"Every time I went out on track this year, I knew I wasn't that same person (as in Tokyo) any more. I was like I found my juice, my groove, I was enjoying track again. I was just happy every day to be running."

Second-placed Bednarek was unhappy with the early part of his race where he felt he lost momentum but pleased with the way he bounced back to claim a silver medal.

“I just had to relax and pump my arms to get back what I lost and I mean that’s pretty much it," he said. "I’m just going to go back to the track and try to improve on what I did wrong and be better next time.”

And on the US sweep of the podium, the 23-year-old had this to say.

“It’s just a testament to all of us, we all work hard… every single year we’re dealing with a lot of injuries and we come back and get it done.”

Knighton, who arguably entered the final as favourite despite never having won a major championship medal, was elated to get his hands on a world championship bronze.

"It feels good to win my first one and I hope for more in the future," he said. "It feels good to become the youngest medallist (in the men's 200), there's more to do in the future.

"I kind of got off to a bad start because my right foot hit the block coming out of the block, so that kind of messed my race pattern up. I'm happy for him (Lyles), everybody put in the effort to be great and he broke the American record."

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