Lyles still dreams of four gold medals in Paris, despite criticism of the relay

Nassau (Bahamas) (AFP) – Noah Lyles will “unfortunately” not compete in the 4x400m event at the World Athletics Relays in Nassau this weekend, but the American sprinter insists he still has a target of four medals in mind for the Paris Olympics.

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Lyles won three golds in the 100, 200 and 4×100 meter relay at the outdoor world championships in Budapest last year, making him the man to beat in the French capital this summer.

The 26-year-old also competed at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March and returned home with two silver medals after teammate Christian Coleman overtook him in the 60 meters and Alexander Doom claimed victory for Belgium over the American quartet in the 4×400 meters relay assured.

However, Lyles’ inclusion in that relay team was criticized, with 2022 100-meter champion and Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Fred Kerley accusing the U.S. Track Federation of favoritism in drafting Lyles.

“I can’t give all the details, but there were coaches who were coaching athletes who were in the 4x400m (Glasgow relay) who couldn’t run, who were running in the preliminaries, who were upset about that,” Lyles said. .

His call, Lyles admitted, had caused “a lot of controversy.”

“Some people were reprimanded, other people were threatened with fire,” he said in Nassau ahead of this weekend’s world relays, in which he will now compete only in the 4x100m.

“Let’s just say a lot of people in the US were very, very angry that I was doing the 4×400 and I said, ‘run faster, push me out!’.”

Lyles, whose contract extension with Adidas this season has been described as the biggest since Usain Bolt’s with Puma, added: “Ultimately it’s the relay coach’s choice to decide who gets to be on the relay. I’ve told them before we were going to Glasgow that I would make myself available for the 4×400 if you wanted to use me.

“Afterwards, there were coaches who were angry and complained to higher-ups about the decision.”

Florida Synergy

Unless there are rule changes, Lyles says he will consider himself eligible for selection for the 4x400m relay team in Paris.

The U.S. silver medal-winning 4x400m relay team at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow: Christopher Bailey, Noah Lyles, Matthew Boling and Jacory Patterson
The U.S. silver medal-winning 4x400m relay team at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow: Christopher Bailey, Noah Lyles, Matthew Boling and Jacory Patterson © Ben Stansall / AFP/File

“Well, the way the rules are set up now is that anyone who is actually on the team can be on the relay,” he said.

“I’m going to train specifically for the 100 and 200 and be as strong as I can in the 400.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. And I know I’ve said that for the last two years, but it’s very true.”

Before the Olympics, however, comes the enormous challenge of safely negotiating the US trials in June.

“You can’t build a team unless you go through the US Championships, and as we know it’s one of the toughest teams in the world,” he said.

“We’ve probably got five of the top 10 fastest guys in a lot of the sprint events and new names are coming in every second… you never know who’s going to pop up, so being ready for anything is really important.”

Returning to the competition in Nassau, Lyles said he had a lot of confidence in the U.S. 4×100-meter relay team, emphasizing that there was no bad blood due to the fallout from the Glasgow disaster.

“Almost all of us are from Florida. Five out of six of us are from Claremont so we were able to just train at our track before coming here and just do a few steps, it was super easy because we’re only about 15 minutes old. away from each other.

“It’s definitely a different team. But I know I’m super impressed with everyone. Everyone is 100 percent for it… I’ve seen some of the best passing I’ve seen from the US in a long time. “