World champion Noah Lyles schooled youngster Erriyon Knighton in winning the men’s 200m in 19.67sec at the US athletics championships on Sunday.
The 18-year-old Knighton, who stunned the athletics world with a time of 19.49sec in May, held a commanding lead coming off the curve but Lyles remorselessly chased him down, playfully pointing a finger in Knighton’s direction as they barrelled across the line.
“I do what it takes to win,” said Lyles – who insisted he was pointing not at Knighton but at the clock. “Erriyon got the best of me on the turn – I wasn’t worried about it. I said I’m going to catch him. I’m going to take the rest of this 100 and that’s what I did.”
Knighton finished second in 19.69 and Fred Kerley, who posted times of 9.76 and 9.77 on the way to a 100m victory on Friday, was third in 19.83 to nab the third berth for the World Championships, which will be held on the same Hayward Field track in Eugene on July 15-24.
Abby Steiner continued her upward trajectory in the women’s 200m, improving her own world-leading time with a victory in 21.77sec.
Two hours earlier, Steiner had matched the previous world-leading time of 21.80 in the semi-finals as she continues to shine in a season that saw her claim the NCAA collegiate title this month.
“Coming off a collegiate season, a lot of people want to put limitations on you, say you’re going to be burned out,” she said, adding that she believes she can carry her form through Worlds.
Tamara Clark set the early pace but finished second in 21.92 while Jenna Prandini was third in 22.01. Tokyo bronze medallist Gabby Thomas, who is nursing a torn hamstring, finished eighth. The disappointment left her in tears, but she vowed to continue training with the aim of completing the Diamond League season.
Sprint darling Sha’Carri Richardson bowed out in the 200m semi-finals, failing to earn a World Championships team berth after crashing out of the first round of the 100m.
She, too, said she’d redirect her attention to the Diamond League. Rai Benjamin, silver medallist at the 2019 Worlds and the Tokyo Games last year, posted the fastest time in the world this year in winning the 400m hurdles in 47.04sec.
Benjamin improved on the previous season-leading 47.23 posted by Alison Dos Santos at the Eugene Diamond League in May and provided a tantalizing glimpse of what the event could offer at Worlds, where he’ll be aiming to avenge his loss to Karsten Warholm in the Tokyo final — when both ran under the previous world record.
“It was a very nasty 47-0,” Benjamin said of a somewhat ragged race, his first since the Doha Diamond League. Since then he has battled Covid and hamstring tendinitis.
In other events, Chase Ealey won the women’s shot put with a world-leading throw of 20.51m. Adelaide Aquilla was second at 19.45 and Jessica Woodard was third at 19.40.
Donald Scott won the men’s triple jump with a leap of 17.07, followed by Will Claye at 16.93 and Chris Benard at 16.38. Four-time and defending world champion Christian Taylor, who missed the Tokyo Olympics with a ruptured Achilles tendon, finished fifth (16.54) as he prepares for his title defense courtesy of his champion’s bye.
The 110m hurdles produced a nail-biter, with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Devon Allen barely making the team.
Defending world champion Grant Holloway skipped the final, which was won by Daniel Roberts in 13.03sec. Trey Cunningham was second in 13.08. Allen, who caused shockwaves around the sport when he beat Holloway with the third-fastest time ever at the New York Grand Prix, narrowly edged Jamal Britt for third, both credited with a time of 13.09.—AFP