Noah Lyles was a contender to win the gold medal in the men’s 200m sprint at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The 24-year-old came close to winning but ultimately settled for the bronze for his first career Olympic medal.
Lyles was running in lane 3, while winner Andre de Grasse was in lane 6 and second-place finisher Kenny Bednarek was in lane 7 (lane 1 was not used). De Grasse running adjacent to Bednarek likely helped. He saw Bednarek was in front of him and was able to catch him.
Taking nothing away from Andre De Grasse but I wonder how this race would've gone had Noah Lyles been in a better lane, getting pushed by faster runners. NL might’ve cost himself a by slowing up at the end of his qualifying heat
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) August 4, 2021
Lyles wasn’t so lucky.
Lyles said after the race that one of his issues was not knowing where he was.
“I knew I was going to have to get out really hard. And I’ve been doing a really good job of that in practice, so I really wanted to show it off. I came off the turn. Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was, so I just felt like I was running for my life,” Lyles said in an interview with NBC after the race.
Having de Grasse and Bednarek in his sights might have given Lyles the extra push he needed to beat them. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen.
Some wondered whether Lyles’ blunder in the semifinals would come back to hurt him. It did with a worse lane assignment in the final.