Lyles Drops A 19.50 | Lausanne Diamond League Recap

Two years of simmering Noah Lyles performances turned into an eruption on Friday in a race that was both astonishing and inevitable. 

Because as fast as Lyles has run in his young career, it’s seemed certain that he would go faster. His age (21), consistency (last year, he ran between 19.65 and 19.69 on four occasions) and his command of the back half of the race begged for a time only a few have experienced. On Friday, we saw it.  

Lyles ripped off the curve at the Lausanne Diamond League and powered down the straightaway to win the 200m in 19.50. It’s a time only three men have bettered in history--Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Michael Johnson--and the quickest in the world since 2012.  

Entering the race, Lyles was already the overwhelming favorite in the 200m at the World Championships. His only loss this year came at hands of Michael Norman (19.70 to 19.72 in Rome). Norman said he will not race the 200m in Doha, opting instead for the 400m.

That would make Doha a match-up of Lyles vs. the clock with Michael Johnson’s 19.32 a lofty, but alluring goal. The run on Friday also seems to have reignited talk of a 100m/200m double that Lyles previously said he wouldn’t do this year.

Here are the rest of the takeaways from the meet:

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s Pre Classic Performance Was An Aberration

If you jumped ship after Fraser-Pryce ran 11.39 last week at Stanford then I suggest you delete all those tweets you sent and quietly climb back aboard. Fraser-Pryce ran 10.74 to win the 100m, gapping a good field by the halfway point and winning comfortably. 

Two weeks ago, Fraser-Pryce ran 10.73 at the Jamaican trials. That was her fastest time since 2013 and the fourth-best of her career--statistics that were puzzling after her performance at the Prefontaine Classic. But it’s evident now that Fraser-Pryce is a gold medal threat who could go under 10.70 this year.

Dina Asher-Smith was second in 10.91, while Pre Classic winner Marie Josée Ta Lou was third in 10.93. 

The Men’s 5000m In Lausanne Is Always Drama

Last year, Yomif Kejelcha grabbed Selemon Barega’s shorts in the Lausanne 5000m—their wrestling match left Kejelcha on the ground, while Barega went on to finish second. It was humorous because it was the most distance-runner fight in history, but it also spoiled the ending of what was a very competitive race. 

Fast-forward to today, the men’s 5000m (featuring Kejelcha and Barega) went out quickly but succumbed to a slow third kilometer that bunched the field. From that pack, Hagos Gebrhiwet exploded with 700 meters remaining in a move reminiscent of a man desperately trying to catch a bus. Gebrhiwet’s lead got bigger and bigger and bigger until you had to wonder if it was too big. 

When he hit the finish line with a lap to go, Gebrhiwet stopped and raised his arms in victory. He thought the race was over. Kejelcha, who probably was wondering how Gebrhiwet was going to survive a 53-second penultimate lap, flew past and won the race in 13:00.56. Gebrhiwet struggled home in 10th. I’m not sure what Season 3 of the Lausanne 5000m will be about, but I’m all in. 

There’s A New Medal Threat In The Women’s 400m

Little-known Aminatou Seyni of Niger cut more than a second off her personal best to finish second in 49.19. Seyni, who's already earned a reputation as a remarkable closer, caught pre-race favorite Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain on the homestretch. It looked like Seyni would push past Naser, but Naser rallied in the final 20 meters to run 49.17, the second-best time of her career. According to Pierre Jean Vazel, Seyni ran the final 100m in 12.6--the quickest final 100m ever timed in the event. 

Naser is now four-for-four in Diamond Leagues this season and her performance pulls her into the orbit of Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who has a season best of 49.05. But now Naser has pressure from someone outside Miller-Uibo, something that didn’t seem likely before this race.

Daniel Roberts Is Going To Be A Factor In The High Hurdles All Summer

From the gun, Daniel Roberts looked out of rhythm in his first Diamond League race. He zig-zagged across his lane after several hurdles and lost valuable ground on the leaders. 

But anyone who watched Roberts during the NCAA season knows that he can finish. By the midway point in Lausanne, he steadied himself and began to get back into the race. It wasn’t enough to catch Orlando Ortega, who ran away with his second consecutive Diamond League win in 13.05, but Roberts rallied for a time of 13.11--remarkable when you consider his issues at the start. 

Timothy Cheruiyot Doesn’t Have Bad Races

He’s now 13-3 in the 1500m/mile over the past two years after his 3:28.78 victory on Friday. The mark is Cheruiyot’s second-best all-time and he did much of it himself. After the final pacer stepped off with just over a lap remaining, Cheruiyot was all alone. He maintained his comfortable lead on the backstretch as the rest of the field tried to erase the gap. It was only in the final 100 meters that they seemed to make any headway. By that point, Cheruiyot was on his way to a meet record and the fastest time in the world this year.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen had a great finish to run a lifetime best of 3:30.16 and place second. 

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