Reigning world champion Noah Lyles thought he’d made history by smashing Usain Bolt’s world record — but it was all an illusion.
Reigning world champion Noah Lyles thought he’d made history by smashing Usain Bolt’s world record — but it was all an illusion.

Chaos after champ ‘breaks’ Bolt’s record

American Allyson Felix impressed in the innovative Inspiration Games this morning (AEDT), but a track glitch saw Noah Lyles fall short in his quest for victory in the 200m.

Six-time Olympic gold medallist Felix scorched to victory in the women's rarely-run 150m, one of eight disciplines held at seven venues across the globe.

Felix, running in Walnut, California, clocked 16.81 seconds, with Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas in second in 17.15 seconds after getting a synchronised start on the track in Bradenton, Florida.

"It's very strange," said the American, who has 18 career world championship medals including 13 gold.

"It's hard to challenge yourself. But I love this sport, so any chance to get out there and run, I'll take it."

Felix later anchored the US team to victory in the 3x100m relay.

There was initial shock, and then frustration, for Lyles, the world 200m champion whose form on the track and bubbly personality has seen him hailed as a natural successor to Usain Bolt.

Running solo, the American clocked what seemed an unlikely, yet staggering, 18.9 seconds over the 200m. That would have smashed Bolt's world record of 19.19 seconds and blitzed Lyles' previous personal best of 19.5.

But it soon came to light that he had been given the wrong startline and ran just 185m of the race, the win eventually going to France's Christophe Lemaitre in 20.65sec.

Lyles was left fuming.

The competition held simultaneously in different cities around the world, pitching Europe against North America and the rest of the world, was the brainwave of organisers of the Zurich Diamond League, which was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was another unusual event for the male sprinters: the 100 yards (91m), which was included in the Commonwealth Games until 1966 and is still held in the United States in certain competitions.

The sole race with the three athletes saw Canada's Andre de Grasse sweep through the line in 9.68 seconds.

Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut was on his heels in 9.72 seconds, with Jamaican Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod third (9.87 seconds).

"I'm glad I got to come out here and get a run in," said De Grasse, who won silver (200m) and bronze (100m) at last year's world championships in Doha.

"It was fun!"


In the absence of American world record holder and current world 400m hurdles champion Dalilah Muhammad, American Georganne Moline marked her return from injury with an impressive 39.08 seconds over the rarely-raced 300m hurdles.

Swiss Lea Sprunger was second, with Czech Zuzanna Hejnova, the two-time world champ, failing to click and coming in third.

"There was a lot of anxiety going into this race," said Moline, who had been out for 18 months after foot surgery.

The men's pole vault saw Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie's brother Valentin suffer a shocker, with three failures at 5.36m indoors for a disappointing early no-mark exit.

Poland's Piotr Lisek, vaulting in the Swedish town of Karlstad, bombed out at 5.76m, leaving American Sam Hendricks a clear path for victory with 5.81m.

There was a US vaulting double as Sandi Morris claimed the win in the women's event with a best of 4.66m, ahead of Sweden's Angelica Bengtsson (4.46m). Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi, the reigning world, European and Olympic champion, failed to fire and no-marked.

The men's triple jump saw Lisbon-based Pedro Pablo Pichardo, the Cuban-born two-time world silver medallist competing for Portugal, claiming victory in 17.40m. American world champion Christian Taylor was second with his 17.27m effort.

But it was not enough as North America claimed the win, despite Lyles' gaffe.

Originally published as Chaos after champ 'breaks' Bolt's record

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