I missed this column by Sean MacPherson, and once I read it, I really liked it. I think it is time to truly appreciate some of the amazing races that we saw in Eugene, and the Men’s 200 meters was surely one of them! Thanks, Sean!
200 Meter Final: Noah Lyles Leads American Sweep With American Record
By Sean MacPherson RunBlogRun
After the level of tension, drama, and high-level competition produced by the 200 meters at the U.S. Championships, track fans knew they were due for some fireworks in this event on the global stage. It turns out, that arguably the most highly anticipated race of the 2022 World Championships lived up to the hype.
Noah Lyles dominated the race in an American record of 19.31. Kenny Bednarek defended his Olympic silver with a second-place finish in 19.77. Erriyon Knighton completed the U.S. sweep by taking bronze in 19.80.
“I knew that was coming.” said Lyles, “I’ve just been waiting for it for a few months now. I knew after the semis that today was going to be the day.”
Noah Lyles, a now two-time World Champion, stormed out of the blocks from lane 6 and immediately controlled the race. By the time Lyles rounded the turn into the homestretch, he had clear daylight over the rest of the field.
“He ran the hell out of that turn,” said Kenny Bednarek, who ran out of lane 5.
After that electric turn, the race became Lyles against the clock, and then the battle for silver and bronze between the rest of the field. Lyles sprinted through the finish line and immediately noticed an unofficial time of 19.32.
“I didn’t want it to say 32,” Lyles said. “I wanted my own time. Nobody wants to share a record.”
Moments later, after Lyles turned his back on the clock, the American crowd at Hayward Field went ballistic. With an official time of 19.31, Michael Johnson’s record from 1996 was finally broken.
“All me and my coach have been talking about was like, ‘We’re going after that record.’”
Back in April, Lyles learned that 18-year-old rival Erriyon Knighton had just run a world-leading time of 19.49. His response was iconic. Lyles proceeded to cancel his dinner plans, turned around his car, and plan a race for the next day. He ran 19.86, and the 2022 battle between Lyles and Knighton was underway.
When Lyles was asked why he chose to solely focus on the 200 meters rather than attempting to double in the 100 meters, he immediately pointed to Knighton.
“Because I really wanted to break that American record in the 200, and I did not want to lose to Erriyon.” Both wishes came true on Thursday night.
Knighton held off NCAA Champion Joseph Fanbulleh for fourth place to earn his first global medal. At 18 years old, he became the youngest World Champion medalist in the history of the 200 meters.
While the achievement is grand, Knighton feels he could have performed better. He told reporters afterward that he nicked the side of the block with his right foot at the start, and it disrupted his acceleration phase.
“I feel like I could have run a better race. I just kind of messed up coming out of the block,” said Knighton, “I think if I didn’t do that, I would’ve had a better race and a different outcome.”
Lyles and Knighton may receive much of the attention following this race, but Kenny Bednarek is not to be lost in the shuffle. After battling a toe injury early in 2022, Bednarek peaked at the right time and has now earned back-to-back silver medals after a second-place finish in Tokyo.