Christian Coleman wins 100m at The Prefontaine Classic – USA TODAY

Correction/clarification: A headline on the story incorrectly described Christian Coleman’s winning time in the men’s 100 meters. He won with a time of 9.83 seconds, tied for the world’s fastest time this season.
EUGENE, Ore. — The day before running in The Prefontaine Classic, American sprinter Noah Lyles talked about “that Hayward magic,”  a nod to the brilliant performances athletes often put on when competing at the legendary Hayward Field, one of track and field’s most beloved venues. 
Lyles, just one month removed from winning three gold medals at the 2023 world championships in Budapest, Hungary, said he’s a big believer that “the Hayward magic works for Americans,” and Saturday, it did. 
Just not for him. 
Christian Coleman, an American who finished fifth at Worlds in the 100, bested Lyles in the last meet of the season, winning in 9.83 seconds, tied for the world’s fastest time this season. Lyles finished second in 9.85, while Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala took third. 
“I was ready to run a 9.7 in Budapest, but it just wasn’t my day,” Coleman said. “In races you take the good and apply it (to the next race) and take the negative and improve on it. Coming off the worlds final, I just told myself to relax.”
But the World’s Fastest Man — a title Lyles gets to keep because he won gold at the world championships — didn’t seem too upset with the results Saturday.
Sipping on a Five Guys salted caramel milkshake as he came through the mixed zone — an end of the season gift from NBC track analyst and sideline reporter Lewis Johnson — Lyles said he “felt great” after running his second-fastest time of the year, adding that he was here mostly to have fun anyway.
“This shows my body is still in peak condition,” said Lyles, adding that he was especially satisfied given that at The Pre, there are no rounds, only a final race. “Being able to go straight from the gun, I’m never gonna be disappointed.” 
As for why he showed up at all to the Diamond League final, if winning wasn’t a must, Lyles gave one of his signature ear-to-ear smiles.
“To show my face!” he exclaimed. “The crowd, they like to see the world champion … I did my own victory lap after. I started with one (autograph), then it got to 10, then 20 and then I had to stop and so I was just high-fiving people all around the stadium. Even when I don’t win, I win.”
Friday at a pre-meet press conference, Lyles joked he was tired of being tied for the world’s best time (9.83), a time he, Coleman and Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes have all run. He’d like for someone — preferably him — to become the clear leader in the race. Instead, they’ll end the season tied. 
While the winners in each event this weekend get $30,000, the most important meet of the season took place last month in Budapest: the 2023 world championships. There, Lyles won the 100 (9.83), 200 (19.52) and anchored the U.S. to gold in the 4×100. The day before running the 100 here (he’s not scheduled to run the 200 on Sunday), he said he was treating The Pre “like a victory lap.” 
“This is our celebration,” Lyles said. “Other teams go home and get a victory parade, but this is ours.” 
He told a story about the 2021 Pre, held after the Tokyo Olympics, where Lyles’ mom watched a young fan frantically search the start list for star hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, devastated to find McLaughlin had skipped the often star-studded meet. 
“I guess I didn’t realize how much people want to see us after (we’ve won the big medal),” Lyles said. Acknowledging that he was tired after a long season — something he hears from other track athletes — he said he often tries to remind himself and others, “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose now, after (the) world championships. No one can take that from you, whatever title you won.”
That’s true for Lyles, too, even if Saturday was a smidge disappointing, results-wise. 
“I’m excited, we all showed that we have the speed but it also shows you have be the man on the day. I was listening to some crackerjack who said, ‘if Noah doesn’t win at Prefontaine, he doesn’t deserve to be world No. 1.’
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Lyles said, rolling his eyes. “Whoever’s got the title, got the title. You gotta come take the belt. This (race today) was an exhibition, not a title fight.”
He welcomes the title fight, too.
“I’m excited,” he said of the growing parity in the sprints. “For my career, what I was bored with is there was no one to challenge me.”
That’s not the case now, he acknowledged. And that’s just fine with him.


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