Noah Lyles crouched down, put his hands on his knees and glared at the clock. Not seeing what he’d hoped for, he waved his hand dismissively and walked back onto the track to celebrate what was still a long-awaited win in the 200 meters at the world championships.
Oh, but this night would just keep getting better.
The clock that, for a moment, read “19.32,” would adjust down a tick to “19.31.” That meant he broke Michael Johnson’s hallowed, 26-year-old American record — a mark that, for decades, seemed unapproachable.
“I was very self-concerned about whether that number was going to turn from a ‘2’ to a ‘1,’” Lyles conceded after Thursday night’s history-making win.
Then, a few seconds later, the scoreboard that, at first, only had Lyles’ name on it, popped up with the names of the two finishers behind him: Kenny Bednarek and Erriyon Knighton of the U.S. The U.S. had swept the 200, just as it had the 100 four nights earlier.
Lyles pounded his hand on the track four times, stood up straight and ripped off his jersey. He grabbed his medal from the presenter, then went over and hugged his family and took hold of an American flag — one of many that have been needed at the first world championships to be held in the United States.
The sweep gave the U.S. 22 medals through seven days.
“America’s, like, scooping up medals left and right,” Lyles said. “This feels great because I’ve been waiting for America to come out and dominate since I got on the platform.”
Lyles’ 19.31 was the third-fastest time in history, behind only Usain Bolt’s 19.19 in 2009 and a 19.26 run two years later by another Jamaican, Yohan Blake, while he was briefly pushing Bolt for supremacy.