Inspiration Games: Chaos reigns as Noah Lyles runs wrong distance

Lyles ran 185 metres in the 200 metres event as he started from the wrong line, running in Florida.

Noah Lyles was running solo in Florida in the high-tech athletics meet.   -  AP

An ambitious attempt to held a high-tech athletics meeting with runners in different stadiums ran into problems on Thursday when world champion Noah Lyles ran too short a distance in the 200 metres event.

Lyles, running in Florida, completed the race at the Inspiration Games in an eye-watering 18.90 seconds - which would have smashed Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19 seconds and his own personal best time of 19.50. But, after initial confusion, his official result read “shorter distance” and it appeared that the American had started from the wrong line. Swiss television said he had only run 185 metres.

The race was won by Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre, running in Zurich, in 19.80 seconds, one hundredth of a second ahead of Dutchman Churandy Martina, who was running in the Netherlands.

The meeting was the Zurich Weltklasse’s answer to the coronavirus which has prevented conventional events from taking place.

ALSO READ | Tokyo 2020 expects to secure all venues - reports

It prided itself on the use of high technology which allowed athletes separated by thousands of kilometres to compete against each other.

'Special times'

“Special times require special approaches and that’s what we invented,” said Andreas Hediger, the co-director of the Inspiration Games. “We go to the athletes if the athletes cannot come to Zurich.”

ALSO READ | Uncertainty continues to cloud athletics restart

The starting guns were synchronised and the three runners in each track event shown on a split screen, although slightly different camera angles in the respective venues made it difficult to tell the leader until the finish line came into view.

In the top race, multiple Olympic and world championship medallist Allyson Felix overcame 400 metres Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world bronze medallist Mujinga Kambundji over 150 metres. Felix was racing in California, Miller-Uibo in Florida and Kambundji in Zurich.

'Strange'

“It was very strange, it felt like practice, but not even with the team-mates,” Felix said. “I missed the energy, but any chance to get out here and run I will take it. It was really important to get out there and appreciate the sport. I can’t wait until we can compete in person.”

Thirty athletes took part in the event which was held in seven stadiums across Europe and North America.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

Read the Free eBook