“I Was Able To Let Go”- Noah Lyles on Forgetting the Tokyo Olympics Setback and Returning Stronger

Published 08/22/2021, 11:52 PM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 200m – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 4, 2021. Noah Lyles of the United States in action REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel


Noah Lyles had a very disappointing Tokyo Olympic campaign, coming back with a bronze in the men’s 200m race, an event in which he was the gold medal favorite. Up until the Games, he had the world-leading timing of the year and backed that up until the Track and Field trials in Eugene, Oregon.

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However, in Tokyo, his form plummeted and after a narrow escape from being eliminated in the heats, he could not rebound for the win in the finals. Lyles placed third, after fellow American Kenny Bednarek and Canada’s Andre De Grasse, who ended a near decade-long wait to win gold. 

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While a setback like this can take time to recover from and could even derail athletes, Noah Lyles decided he was not having any of it. The track star came with his head in the game to the Nike Prefontaine Classic 2021 and won the 200m race in a new World lead timing of 19.52 seconds.  

“I wasn’t really feeling that my mindset was right for today but I feel like five sessions of therapy I was able to let go of what happened in Tokyo and convince myself that … I know I’m in great shape to run,” Lyles said after the race. 

The American set a new meet record at Hayward Field Stadium, shattering track legend Justin Gatlin’s previous one at 19.57 seconds. He completed his comeback with a statement, and on only the first race after Tokyo to cap off the season. 

Noah Lyles believes the absence of fans in Tokyo affected him

Reflecting on his performance in Tokyo, Noah Lyles believed the absence of a live crowd played a major role in his downfall. 

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“I don’t think you understand how lifeless it was in Tokyo to have no crowd there,” he said. “It was dead silent. To come here and see a whole lot of people who love track, it was just amazing to see.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 200m – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 4, 2021. Noah Lyles of the United States celebrates after winning bronze REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

“What happened in Tokyo happened; this isn’t Tokyo. I wanted to step out here and do my best,” Lyles told NBC. “To be honest, I walked out here on the track and said, ‘Shoot, these are my people!’”

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We can expect a lot more from Noah Lyles as he competes in the World Championships next year. Even though he is yet to prove himself against Olympic Gold medallist Andre De Grasse, a replication of this performance can surely see him do it. 

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Luke Dias

1547 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

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