Top Races Of 2018: Men's Sprints

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Today is the third installment recapping the best track races of 2018. Monday, we covered the top hurdle races from Sydney McLaughlin, Abderrahman Samba and Brianna McNeal, while Tuesday we reviewed the women’s sprints with appearances from Dina Asher-Smith and Shaunae Miller-Uibo. 

Next up, the men’s sprints.

100m: Brussels Diamond League

Christian Coleman broke away from the field in the Diamond League final posting a 9.79 win that separated him from the logjam atop the men’s 100m. Prior to the race in Brussels, the event was marked by parity and close finishes. 

Ronnie Baker and Noah Lyles stood atop the world list, while Coleman’s season best of 9.94 put him in a mass of men in the low 9.9s. He had recorded some victories in the summer, but injuries had slowed down the 22-year-old after a winter where he set the world record in the 60m.

In Brussels, he looked like the sprinter we saw in March. His start was explosive and never gave up any ground in the final 50 meters. His winning margin (.14 in front of Baker) was in stark contrast to all of the photo finishes in the 100m. 

The mark was a personal best for Coleman by .03 seconds and tied him with Maurice Greene as the third fastest American of all-time. 


200m: Lausanne Diamond League

Though Noah Lyles made some noise in the 100m, he was at his best in his signature event, the 200m. Lyles ran under 19.70 four different times in 2018 on his way to a perfect 5-0 record in the event. He was never under serious threat in any of them, but the most doubt came in Lausanne when he linked up with his high school rival, Michael Norman. 

Norman, fresh off an NCAA record of 43.61 in the 400m, got a great start and led off the curve. But Lyles clawed back and moved even with 50 meters remaining. From there, Lyles powered away for a 19.69 to 19.88 victory. 

Two weeks later in Monaco, Lyles went on to lower his season, and lifetime, best to 19.65. 


400m: NCAA Championships

Before Norman was dropping sub-20-second 200m races in Europe he was setting NCAA and world indoor records in the United States. 

The pre-race forecasts predicted that it would take a time under 44 seconds to win the NCAA title. The depth in the event was prodigious and stars like Norman, Nathon Allen and Akeem Bloomfield had already put up quick marks. It turns out, sub-44 was underselling the event. 

Norman rocketed to a collegiate record of 43.61. Bloomfield also broke 44, clocking a 43.94, while Allen set a lifetime best of 44.13. 

The rest of the season, nobody was able to match Norman’s mark as the race produced three of the top six marks of the year. 

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Track and field athletes are notorious for seemingly falling off the map without notice, either due to injury, extended breaks, an unannounced retirement or otherwise. Coming off a year with no outdoor global championships in 2018, and immediately transitioning into this unusually long season, the number of athletes off their typical schedule was bound to be higher in 2019. In the case of Allyson Felix, who welcomed her first child last November, her extended absence was anticipated, but for others their status remains unclear.

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