DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Noah Lyles is counting down the days until he can kick back and read comic books, record some music he’s written, spend money on fashionable clothes and do whatever other non-track things come to mind.
The home screen on the American sprinter’s phone already tells him it’s about that time: “ I am the 2019 200 world champion” greets him when he glances down. But there’s one more event for him at the world championships _ the 4×100 relay _ before a four-week break to slow down.
Then, a new mantra will appear on his phone for him to stare at: Win the 100m and 200m at the Tokyo Olympics.
His win in the 200m at worlds started him on the path. His success in Tokyo would only serve to send the 22-year-old even further on his way.
“They are going to say I’m an icon,” Lyles confidently proclaimed in an interview with The Associated Press.
With no Usain Bolt around, Lyles is being trumpeted as the next big thing in track and field. Mention it to him, though, and he rolls his eyes. He knows track is searching for another superstar and he’s happy to help fill the role. But it will happen on his time, not anyone else’s schedule. It’s why he didn’t run the 100m at worlds this season.
“If you want to see me do great things, you have to let me do it the way I have to do it,” said Lyles, who signed long-term deal with Adidas in 2016.
Some of his biggest rivals are U.S. teammate Christian Coleman along with Andre De Grasse of Canada. Like Lyles, they plan to run the 100m-200m at the Tokyo Games. Coleman won the 100m at worlds before skipping the 200m, while De Grasse finished behind Lyles in the 200m and earned a bronze in the 100m.
At the top of Lyles’ to-do list in the offseason will be to improve his starts. He can get away with a slower initial burst in the 200m — he runs such a smooth, tight curve — but not so much in the 100m. He’s going to back to the drawing board.
“People underestimate how hard it is to change a start,” Lyles said. “There are so many quick movements in a start and there are probably a list of 10 things that you have to make sure you’re doing to make sure it’s good. But in your mind, you can only focus on maybe one — two at the most. It comes down to muscle memory.”
Because soon he will be on vacation mode. He’s looking forward to really doing nothing. Maybe a trip to Bermuda and then working on another hip-hop album (he’s written numerous songs over a long season). He will definitely read some comic books, watch some anime movies and build things with Legos (anything with a “Star Wars” theme.)
Shopping trips are on his agenda, too. He’s into high-end fashion these days, with boots, jackets and rings catching his eye.
“Luckily, I have been funding my (shopping) habit by winning races,” Lyles cracked. “But that bill adds up quickly. I had to stop myself in July from buying clothes for about three months so I could say I don’t have a problem.”
He has no problem being an entertainer. He loves the spotlight, which is good since he’s in it so much. He won a national title at 200m in July by holding off Coleman.
“I like to have fun,” said Lyles, who was born in Gainesville, Fla., and went to high school in Alexandria, Va. “I enjoy what I do, and I want people to enjoy watching.”
He’s setting lofty plans for Tokyo — not one, not two, but three gold medals (counting the 4x100m relay).
“You might think that’s crazy with Christian out there, and he’s putting down some good times,” Lyles said. “There’s nothing in my mind that says I can’t get on the line and do the same thing. I’m going to get three golds. I keep saying that to myself.”
SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Alexis Pinturault beat teammate Mathieu Faivre to lead a French one-two finish in the World Cup season-opening giant slalom on Sunday.
Pinturault held a slim lead of .02 over Faivre after the opening run but extended the margin to 0.54 in the final leg.
Zan Kranjec of Slovenia came 0.63 behind in third, followed by American duo Tommy Ford and Ted Ligety, who trailed by .70 and 1.09, respectively.
Ford, with his best career World Cup finish, and Ligety, with his best since January 2018, came close to ending the U.S. men’s program’s longest World Cup podium drought in two decades. The American men had zero World Cup podiums last season for the first time since 1997-98.
Pinturault finished runner-up to Marcel Hirscher in the overall standings last season and is widely regarded a main contender to succeed the retired record champion from Austria for the sport’s biggest prize.
Pinturault also won the traditional first GS of the season in the Austrian Alps when it was last held in 2016. The race was canceled due to bad weather in the past two years.
Sunday’s win was Pinturault’s 24th career victory, and 12th in giant slalom. He also won Olympic bronze in the discipline in 2018.
GS world champion Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway finished more than two seconds off the lead in 18th after almost skiing out in the second run.
Yuzuru Hanyu won Skate Canada by what is believed to be the largest margin in Grand Prix figure skating history — 59.82 points.
The two-time Olympic champion, with four quadruple jumps in his free skate en route to 322.59 total points, only upped anticipation for showdowns with American Nathan Chen to come later this season.
“About my current program, I think it’s still 30 or 20 percent,” Hanyu said of the free skate, according to Olympic Channel. “Ultimately, I want to include the quad Axel, and possibly the [quad] Lutz as well. I’m still not sure yet.”
Hanyu committed only minor jumping errors between Friday’s short program and Saturday’s free skate en route to the highest score in the world this season. It’s 23.5 points better than world champion Chen’s winning total at Skate America last week.
It’s also Hanyu’s first time eclipsing 300 points on the fall Grand Prix in three years, setting him up well for his first head-to-head with Chen this season, likely at December’s Grand Prix Final.
“In this competition I was able to win within myself. I skated well in the short and free program, which I didn’t manage before,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union. “I put a lot of pressure on myself before this competition, because I wanted to exceed 300 points.”
Hanyu prevailed over a field lacking any of the other top-10 skaters from last season. Canadian Nam Nguyen was a distant runner-up, followed by Japanese Keiji Tanaka. American Camden Pulkinen, second after the short, ended up fourth with quadruple toe loops in both programs.
Hanyu held the previous Grand Prix margin record of 55.97 points from the 2015 NHK Trophy, back when he dominated the sport. Hanyu set back-to-back records for total score at 2015 NHK and the 2015 Grand Prix Final.
He was set back the last two seasons by a right ankle injury first suffered in November 2017. Meanwhile, the American Chen ascended to win the last two world titles, outscoring Hanyu in their last three head-to-head programs dating to the 2018 Olympic free skate.
The Grand Prix season continues in France next week, headlined by Chen and fellow world champions Alina Zagitova and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.
Skate CanadaMen1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 322.59 2. Nam Nguyen (CAN) — 262.77 3. Keiji Tanaka (JPN) — 250.02 4. Camden Pulkinen (USA) — 244.78 5. Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) — 227.40 6. Matteo Rizzo (ITA) — 223.78 7. Nicolas Nadeau (CAN) — 222.33 8. Andrei Lazukin (RUS) — 212.07 9. Julian Zhi Jie Yee (MAS) — 211.63 10. Roman Sadovsky (CAN) — 204.35 11. Paul Fentz (GER) — 202.24 12. Brendan Kerry (AUS) — 193.77
As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.
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