Newly-crowned world 100m champion Noah Lyles on Wednesday cruised into the semi-finals of the 200m in his quest to become the first male athlete to win a world sprint double since Usain Bolt in 2015.
Lyles upset a host of 100m specialists to win gold on Sunday and looked comfortable coasting home in 20.05sec to win his qualifying heat in the 200m at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest.
The American is the two-time defending world champion over 200m and will be a hot favourite going into the semi-finals scheduled to be held on Friday from 12:20 AM IST (1850 GMT, Thursday), with the final on Saturday at 1:20 AM IST (1950 GMT, Friday).
“I try to make all my races look as easy as possible, even if they aren’t,” said Lyles, who has said he wants to target Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19sec set back in 2009 at the Berlin world championships.
“I thought it was pretty well handled today. After the first 10 metres I felt extremely good, then coming off the turn I saw (Jamaican) Andrew Hudson on the outside and I knew he was going for a big push.
“He knows what it takes. I had to show him that I’m not intimidated at all.”
Lyles added: “I still have gears left, I just didn’t need them here. Tomorrow the goal is to have my body and my legs ready to hit that power button again.”
Lyles will be accompanied into the semis by the two other medallists in the 100m, Letsile Tebogo of Botswana and Britain’s Zharnel Hughes.
Tebogo, 20, won his heat in 20.22sec while European champion Hughes advanced in 19.99sec, the fastest qualifying time.
“The race was comfortable, the main goal was to save energy because there are two more rounds,” said Tebogo.
“I needed to make sure I qualified for the semifinal. I think I will need to run faster than 19.50 for the title. Noah Lyles will attack the world record, and maybe, if I push him hard, he could set it.
“I am not thinking about it now. My focus is on the next round.”
Lyles is part of a strong US quartet that includes world and Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek, Courtney Lindsey and 19-year-old Erriyon Knighton, who won world bronze in Eugene last year behind Lyles and Bednarek.
Knighton won his heat in 20.17sec, with Olympic champion Andre de Grasse of Canada also qualifying in second.
Bednarek looked very comfortable in winning his heat in 20.01sec while Lindsey eased up to finish second behind Japan’s Towa Uzawa.
“I ran the curve correctly, then eased up on the speed when I turned into the home-straight to save a bit more for tomorrow,” said Lindsey, the NCAA champion with a personal best of 19.89sec.
“I wanted to be in top two, of course, but the main goal for today was to warm up a bit, get out here and get used to the track.”
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