Virginia native vying for ‘World’s Fastest Human’

Fred Jeter | 4/9/2020, 6 p.m.
Track and field enthusiasts will have to wait another year to see the unveiling of the next “World’s Fastest Human.” …
Noah Lyles

Track and field enthusiasts will have to wait another year to see the unveiling of the next “World’s Fastest Human.”

The 2020 Olympic Games set for this July and August in Tokyo have been postponed to 2021 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

A Virginia native is among those in contention to fill the vacancy for the prestigious title of “World’s Fastest Human.”

Noah Lyles, a former standout at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, might be the swiftest person on the globe now that Usain Bolt has hung up his signature gold spikes.

Now retired, Bolt won the 100- and 200-meters at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and holds world records for the 100 (9.58 seconds) and 200 (19.19 seconds).

The flamboyant Lyles, 22, doesn’t lack for talent or cockiness. His top times of 9.86 for 100 meters and 19.50 for the 200 make him a serious candidate to win both dashes at the next Summer Games.

Following an especially head-spinning performance last year in the Paris Diamond League pro meet, Lyles posted on Instagram: “Bolt Who?”

Lyles, also known for his flashy socks and ever-changing hair color, struck gold at last year’s World Championships in Doha in the 200 and the 4x100 relay.

Lyles, along with brother Josephus Lyles, originally committed to the University of Florida out of high school. But the temptation of running pro was too powerful and they chose signing with Nike.

Here are others likely to challenge Lyles for the “World’s Fastest” title-

Father time: Justin Gatlin, 37 – George W. Bush was president in 2004 when the New York City native won the 100-meter title. He was second to Bolt in the 100 in 2016. Gatlin’s best times in the 100 and 200 are 9.74 and 19.57, respectively. He was the world 60-meter champ as far back as 2003 and twice was the world 100-meter champ in 2005 and 2012. There’s no truth to rumor that he’s sponsored by AARP.

Jamaica mon: Yohan Blake, 30 – After playing second fiddle to fellow Jamaican and training partner Bolt, it may be Blake’s time at the front of the band. Blake ran with Bolt to win the gold in 2012 and 2016 in the 4x100 relay. His best times in the 100 and 200 are 9.69 and 19.26, respectively. At 19, he was the youngest man to ever break 10 seconds in the 100 meters. Away from the track, he’s a star bowler with the Kingston Cricket Club.

Football, too? Christian Coleman, 24 – If the former University of Tennessee All-American isn’t the fastest sprinter on earth, he could be the fastest football player. Coleman ran a 4.12 second 40-yard dash, faster than the best ever time from the NFL Combine. On the track, Coleman’s bests are 9.76 and 19.87 in the 100 and 200. He won the 100 meters at the 2018 World Championships in Doha.

Both sides of the Atlantic: Zharnel Hughes, 24 – Technically, he runs for Great Britain, but was born in The Valley, Anguilla, in the Caribbean. He trains with the Racer’s Track Club in Jamaica under Glen Mills with Blake as a teammate. Hughes won the 2018 Euro Championships in the 100. His best times in the 100 and 200 have been 9.91 and 20.02.

Out of Africa: Divine Oduduro, 23 – This native of Nigeria is bidding to become the first athlete representing an African na- tion to win gold in an Olympic sprint. The closest was Frankie Fredericks of Namibia, who won four silver medals in the 100 and 200 in 1992 and 1996. Running for Texas Tech, Oduduro won the Big 12 indoor title in the 200 and the outdoor crown in the 100.

Oh Canada: Andre De Grasse, 25 – From Markham, Ontario, he became first Canadian to win three medals in the same Olympics. During the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he was silver in the 200, bronze in the 100 and another bronze in the 4x100 relay. Donavan Bailey and Percy Williams had won two medals. De Grasse is a former NCAA (University of Southern California) and Pan American champion in the 100 and 200. He is the partner of former world record holder hurdler Nia Ali. The “Canadian Comet” has run the 100 and 200 in 9.9 and 19.8.

The only Olympics ever canceled were in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II. The 1980 Olympics in Moscow and 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles were boycotted by some nations for political reasons.