DES MOINES — USA Track and Field sprinter Noah Lyles doesn’t refer to his victories as individual accomplishments.
When referring to his wins he uses words like “we” and “our.”
Friday night in Des Moines at Drake Stadium, Lyles won the 100-meter dash at the USA Track and Field Championships with a time of 9.88 seconds, which was both a stadium record and the current fastest time in the world.
After the race, he did a popular dance from the video game Fortnite in celebration.
“It’s a silly dance that people recognize,” Lyles said. “It was planned. I plan my dance moves weeks in advance. I also plan my themes weeks before. I always have those things planned in case I win. And if I don’t win, that means I have something as a backup later.”
His theme for the race was the popular Pixar movie, “The Incredibles.” Lyles donned Incredibles socks for the race, and for the record, Lyles believes he would beat Dash in a race because Dash’s parents wouldn’t want him revealing his super powers.
After the dance, the 20-year-old found his mom in the stands and the two shared an embrace over the railing.
“My mom has been through a lot with me and my brothers,” Lyles said. “We’re all really close. Whenever we get a victory, it’s a thing the whole family shares. My uncles back home, they’re all doing their happy dance, too.
“It’s a ’we’ thing and not so much of an ‘I’ thing. You can’t win with just one person.”
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Lyles got off to a slow start in the race. He was looking at the back of Ronnie Baker in lane 3 through the 50-meter mark. Then he came from near-last place and bolted past everyone, including Baker, who finished with a time of 9.90.
“With Ronnie in front of me, it definitely gave me something to shoot for and make it that much more interesting,” Lyles said. “For a second there, I didn’t know if I got it — in my heart, I thought it had it, but you never have it until the screen says you have it.”
Lyles said he’s been coming from behind since he was in eighth grade, especially in the 100-meter dash. It’s a natural thing for him now — he doesn’t panic.
“I try not to panic because, in my mind, panicking is a sign of you letting someone else get to you,” Lyles said. “You should be focusing on your race more than somebody else’s.”
Lyles is traditionally a 200-meter sprinter, but he elected to run the 100-meter this weekend. People assume he’s a 200-meter specialist, but he doesn’t like to be pigeonholed.
“I didn’t think my first USATF championship was going to be a 100-meter gold medal, I thought it was always going to be a 200,” Lyles said. “To win it made me very happy because it proved that I’m more than a 200 runner and it proved that I’m out here with the big dogs and I’m just as great at them.”
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