Noah Lyles Takes Care Of Business to Win Olympic Trials 100m as Christian Coleman Misses Out

Lyles tied his pb by running 9.83 with Kenny Bednarek (9.87) and Fred Kerley (9.88) joining him on the team to Paris

EUGENE, Ore. — Noah Lyles entered Sunday night’s Olympic Trials 100-meter final on the roll of his life. He won gold medals at last year’s World Championships in Budapest in the 100, 200, and 4×100 relay, then built on that by strengthening the weakest part of his race and winning a national title over 60 meters indoors. Everything was building toward his plan of Olympic gold in Paris.

Fred Kerley entered the same race on Sunday night having endured the roughest stretch of his professional career over the preceding 12 months. He failed to qualify for last year’s World Championship 100m final, then changed coaches from Alleyne Francique to Quincy Watts at the end of 2023. He did not break 10 seconds in any of his races in 2024, and two weeks before the Trials, it was revealed that he had parted ways with Asics, the shoe sponsor that signed him to a lucrative contract after his victory at the 2022 World Championships. Kerley did not even run his most recent scheduled race in New York due to frustration with the starting blocks.

And yet when the starter called them to their blocks at a shade before 8 p.m. at Hayward Field on Sunday — Lyles in lane 7, Kerley in lane 8 — none of it mattered. It did not matter that the man in lane 4, Christian Coleman, is the fastest starter in history, or that the (young) man in lane 9, the high school star Christian Miller, had just turned 18 years old barely one month earlier. All that mattered was what was about to unfold over the next 100 meters.

That is the beauty of the United States Olympic Trials. It only takes 10 seconds to change your life.

Noah Lyles wins the 100m at the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials (Kevin Morris photo) Noah Lyles wins the 100m at the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials (Kevin Morris photo)

Coleman started best as usual, and for the first 70 meters, this race belonged to him. But it was not his race. The closers were coming, and 20 meters from the line, Lyles, Kenny Bednarek, and Kerley passed him, almost all at once. Suddenly Coleman was straining, his form breaking down as he dipped for the line.

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Lyles, whose top-end speed is the best in the sport, powered home to win in 9.83 seconds, tying his personal best, with Bednarek second in 9.87 (a personal best) and Kerley third in 9.88. Coleman was fourth, the place no one wants to be at the Trials, having gone from leading the race to off the team in the span of four seconds.

  • Wind: 0.4 m/s
Place Athlete Sponsor Time
1 Noah Lyles adidas OLY STD 9.83
2 Kenny Bednarek NIKE OLY STD 9.87
3 Fred Kerley Unattached OLY STD 9.88
4 Christian Coleman NIKE OLY STD 9.93
5 Christian Miller St. Johns Striders OLY STD 9.98
6 Courtney Lindsey NIKE OLY STD 10.02
7 Brandon Hicklin NIKE OLY STD 10.03
8 Kendal Williams adidas OLY STD 10.04
9 JT Smith Unattached 10.22

Lyles missed out on this team three years ago, finishing 7th at the 2021 Trials in the 100 (he made the team in the 200), but this race was not about redemption for him. Since the ’21 Trials, Lyles has not missed a team and has won every global outdoor final he has participated in. He has done it while becoming one of the faces of the sport, while inviting pressure and attention rather than hiding from it. He was the subject of an NBC documentary in 2023 and will be one of the major characters in Netflix’s SPRINT when it is released next month. He plans elaborate entrances at meets to get his fans talking — on Sunday, he entered Hayward Field accompanied by Snoop Dogg, who carried a briefcase containing Lyles’ racing kit. He freely shares his thoughts on anything and everything in the sport during press conferences and marathon mixed zone interviews.

Most importantly, he keeps winning, which is not easy to do in the 100 meters, an event that has not seen a repeat global champion since Usain Bolt retired seven years ago. Lyles ran nine 60-meter races this winter because he knew that if he could master that event, he would be unstoppable with an extra 40 meters outdoors to hold his speed. His goal for each round in Eugene was “win from 60,” and he did just that. Lyles had the fastest time in the first round (9.92), semis (9.80 with a +3.0 m/s wind), and final (9.83).

It all felt very much business as usual, even though this will be Lyles’ first Olympic 100m. Lyles watches each of his races seven times, studying his form and looking for lessons, but no film analysis was necessary for him to break down one of the biggest victories of his life tonight.

Kevin Morris photo

“Every step I took, it felt correct,” Lyles said. “…I didn’t feel like I had to press very hard. I felt like my knees were going straight into the track, they were directly underneath me. Every step I took felt more powerful than the last. I’m like, I got this race.

Looking to Paris

Lyles has taken the first step to Paris (he’ll be back next week in the 200 as well), and he will head there as the favorite. But of the two American 100m champions crowned this weekend, Sha’Carri Richardson is the safer bet for Olympic 100m gold. Lyles actually lost his last 100m race before the Trials, running 9.85 in Kingston to the 9.82 of Oblique Seville, and Seville will have the opportunity to run faster at the Jamaican trials next week. Lyles also admitted he was shooting for a time in 9.7s in tonight’s final, a club he has still yet to join. Though it is worth noting that the last two Olympic finals (and last three global finals overall) have all been won in 9.80 or slower.

The other threat to Lyles’ gold-medal chances comes from his Olympic teammates in Paris. For the second straight Trials, Bednarek timed things perfectly, and while his 9.89 pb was not enough to make the team three years ago, his 9.87 pb tonight earned him second place. Always an outstanding 200m runner, he has never been in this sort of form in the 100. He gives coach Dennis Mitchell four of the six US 100m Olympians after Mitchell-coached Sha’Carri RichardsonMelissa Jefferson, and TeeTee Terry swept the women’s podium on Saturday.

Embed from Getty Images

But it is Kerley that looms as the real danger man. Between an Olympic silver in 2021 and world gold in 2022, we have already seen how good Kerley can be when he gets it right. But so much had gone wrong for Kerley recently that he faced doubts coming into this meet (external doubts — Kerley never doubts himself). One does not break off one of the biggest shoe deals in the sport a month before the Olympic Trials if everything is going smoothly. The logical inference — one supported by sprint analyst Rae Edwards, who is close with Kerley — is that Kerley was dissatisfied with Asics’ product and was willing to leave significant guaranteed money on the table by racing without a shoe deal at the Trials.

That is a big risk to take. But it is also a risk for a 29-year-old athlete to race at the Olympic Trials — likely the final Trials of his prime — in equipment he does not trust. Kerley raced tonight in a singlet made by Oakley (who sponsors him) and spikes made by Nike (who does not). Kerley declined to provide details when asked to expand on his parting with Asics (though his agent Ricky Simms told that decision was made before his race in New York on June 9). He was slightly more forthcoming on the decision to change coaches entering 2024, moving to Los Angeles to join Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin under Quincy Watts. But only slightly.

“I felt like everything come to the end and everything come to a beginning,” Kerley said. “And this was my beginning to the end on to something upward for my next cycle, and that’s the 2024 and 2028 Olympics.”

What matters most to Kerley now is that he is on the team. And after lowering his season’s best from 10.03 to 9.88 in tonight’s final, he is trending in the right direction with six weeks to go until Paris.

Coleman finishes a devastating 4th

Most truly great Olympic Trials races require a blood sacrifice. Those three Olympic spots mean so much precisely because there are only three available, which makes fourth the position of pain. And few fourth-place finishes can have been more painful than the one Christian Coleman endured tonight.

Coleman finished 6th at his first Trials as a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Tennessee in 2016. After World Championship silver in 2017 and gold in 2019, Coleman entered 2020 as the Olympic favorite, but he was banned for two years in May 2020 (later reduced to 18 months) for missing three drug tests, meaning that he missed the Tokyo Olympics even after it was pushed back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Coleman, one of the most decorated sprinters of his generation (he is also a two-time World Indoor 60-meter champion in addition to owning the world record at that distance), tonight was his opportunity to earn his first individual Olympic berth after competing in the relay in 2016. Coleman had trained diligently during his suspension and gradually raced his way back into form, finishing 6th at the 2022 Worlds, 5th in 2023, and 1st in the 60 at World Indoors in March 2024. He entered the Trials having won two of this three Diamond League 100m races in 2024 and looked great through the rounds, including a wind-legal 9.86 in the semis earlier on Sunday, the #2 time by an American this year.

Had Coleman run that time in the final, a celebration three years in the making would have followed. Instead, Coleman crossed the finish line, looked to the scoreboard, and after reading the result, took a seat on the first turn next to seventh-placer Brandon Hicklin, his neon-green spike plate resting on the rail. If there is a picture that sums up 4th place at an Olympic Trials, it is this one.

Coleman will be in the relay pool for the Paris 4 x 100, where he could yet win a gold medal (though the Americans have not won that event since 2000). And he will have another shot to make the team at these Trials in the 200 next week. But that event is loaded with Lyles, Bednarek, and Erriyon Knighton, and the 200 has never been Coleman’s best race, his otherworldly start neutered by the longer distance. Coleman could be back for another Trials in 2028, but he will be 32 then, and only one man 32 or older has made the US Olympic 100 team in the last 70 years (Justin Gatlin in 2016). This may have been his last shot.

High schooler Christian Miller 5th

After all, new talent is always cropping up in the United States. Recent Creekside (Fla.) High School graduate Christian Miller, one place behind Coleman tonight in fifth, is the latest example. Unaccustomed to the electronic gun used at the Trials (high school races use guns with blanks), Miller got left in the blocks in Friday’s prelims (10.22), but he ran much stronger in the semis (9.94, +2.6) and final (9.98). One year ago, no American high schooler had ever broken 10 seconds wind-legal. Miller has now done it three times during a remarkable 2024 season, one which should end in Paris now that he has qualified for the 4 x 100 relay pool.

“It feels like I set the bar for everybody coming up behind me, all the younger athletes, juniors, freshmen, sophomores,” Miller said. “I feel like I set a bar for them, just setting a spot for all the younger generation to go attack.”

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