Noah Lyles targets maiden gold medal and Usain Bolt's world record in Doha

ATHLETICS-WORLD-2019

With no fuss, no nonsense and no fanfare, Noah Lyles crept his way into the World Athletics Championships on Sunday evening.

It's easy to forget that Doha 2019 is Lyles' first appearance at the global competition, despite  strengthening his claim as Usain Bolt's successor - whether he likes the title or not - throughout this year and the last.

The American's combination of blistering times and flamboyant celebrations makes him exactly the figurehead that athletics needs in its recess from mainstream attention. 

Nevertheless, Lyles seemed to slide largely unnoticed beneath the fallout from Saturday's 100m final and the women's equivalent that approached later that night.

Perhaps the only nod to the magnitude of the occasion was Lyles' new silver hair, the colour associated with the position he would eventually finish during his 200m heat.

Through to the semi-finals

After giving the Qatari bend a mere taste of his eye-watering pace, the American slowly unfurled his spritely legs down the home straight and eventually moved down the gears through the line.

Brendon Rodney snook into the leading during those final metres, but Lyles will be offering no such charity during the semi-finals and Wednesday showdown. 

"I felt really smooth," the Diamond League champion reflected. "My legs were kind of spurting in the middle of the race and I was like: 'calm down legs, we've got two more rounds.'

"I thought I would be more tired. Last year, constantly going around the globe, I was a little more exhausted and I felt like I was struggling. But now, I feel like I'm in some really great shape to do something."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Three

Lyles quizzed on the world record

Lyles has batted away suggestions about breaking the world record over the course of the season and it's difficult to blame him for playing down expectations.

Sure, Lyles is now the fourth fastest man in history around the half lap, but he's still only 22 years old and waiting to make his Olympic bow.

We're as hungry for a spectacular time as much as the next athletics fan, but 'just' winning the World title would still be something remarkable for a sprinter we really need to celebrate.

That being said... as the silver fox made his way through the mixed zone at the Khalifa International Stadium, the inevitable question about Bolt's time of 19.19 seconds reared its head.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning

Sub-19 seconds possible one day?

The response? More confident than ever before and with each repetition of 'I'm in great shape', you got the impression that Lyles is ready to launch the kitchen sink in Doha.

"I'll be going after anything and everything," Lyles responded with conviction.

"Of course the gold is first and whatever time pops up, I'll just be ready. I feel like I'm in some pretty good shape. So we'll see how the rounds keep going. Y'all going to just have to watch."

And while it might seem a fantastical prospect, Lyles was also quizzed about the potential of a sub-19 second run taking place one day, either by him or sprinters in the future.

"I think it is," the American replied when asked if it's feasible. "If you don't think it is, then I don't think you need to be in the sport."

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Three

The world will be watching

World record or not, it's inevitable that the moniker of 'the next Usain Bolt' will be awarded to someone and splattered across back-pages in the coming days.

It's a title so handcuffed to comparisons that none of the top sprinters seem to desire it, but Lyles' name would stand on its own two feet with a historic performance in Qatar.

One headline-grabbing run on the world stage would be enough for a wider audience to appreciate his talent and the energy he brings to a sport that could be defibrillated by it. 

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Three News Now - Sport News