American sprint legend assesses Noah Lyles' chances of breaking Usain Bolt’s 200m world record

Noah Lyles and legendary Usain Bolt

ATHLETICS American sprint legend assesses Noah Lyles' chances of breaking Usain Bolt’s 200m world record

Joel Omotto 07:38 - 30.10.2023

The former 200m world record holder has explained what it would take world 200m champion Noah Lyles to break Usain Bolt’s 19.19 record that has stood since 2009.

American sprint legend Michael Johnson believes Noah Lyles has a 50-50 chance of breaking Usain Bolt’s 200m world record.

Lyles had expressed his desire to break Bolt’s record of 19.19 set at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany during the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary but failed in his attempt after clocking 19.52 even though he defended his 200m world title.

It would see Bolt aim a dig at him with his ‘still the Bolt era’ social media comment, but the American has remained undeterred.

Now, Johnson, whose record of 19.32 was set at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was broken by Bolt, who initially ran 19.30 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before lowering it in Berlin the following year, says while Lyles stands a better chance over the rest, breaking the world record will be very tough for him.

“Records are always possible. I wouldn’t give anyone other than Noah Lyles a chance to break the world record in the 200 metres,” Johnson told MARCA.

“But whether Noah can do it or not, I’d say it’s probably 50-50, because it’s a record. Very tough to break through. I’d put his chances 50-50. I wouldn’t give anyone else more than 30 percent to compete right now.

“So that tells you right there, Aerion Knighton, you know, maybe as he progresses. But, I think Noah has the best chance right now and I’d take it at 50 percent.”

Lyles in third on the all-time list of best 200m runners after clocking 19.31 to win gold at the delayed 2021 World Championships on home soil in Eugene, Oregon in 2022.

After missing the 200m world record in Budapest, Lyles said his decision to compete in three races; 100m, 200m, and 4x100m with Team US made him revise his targets in Hungary.

"I'd say the only thing I really gave up on was really trying to go after the world record in the 200m,” he said.

“There was such awareness that I could break it, but I also knew that in doing this double, there was a huge chance that I might not have the energy to actually break the record. I never doubted that I would win the 200m, but I doubted that the time would be under 19:19.”

The 26-year-old, however, has the Paris 2024 Olympics to try and go for Bolt’s record that has stood for 14 years.

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