When is 200 metres not 200 metres? When US sprinter Noah Lyles runs it, apparently.
The reigning 200m world champion thought he had beaten the great Usain Bolt when he set a new world record for the distance at the Inspiration Games on Thursday evening, only to find out he had run just 185m due to a blunder by organisers.
Lyles posted a time of 18.90 seconds in Zurich, which would have beaten Bolt’s 19.19 set in 2009.
But, given the American’s personal best is 19.50, the time was immediately challenged.
And it transpired that his stunning performance was not all it seemed – race organisers had placed him in the wrong lane before the firing gun.
Lyles, 22, tweeted his frustration at the error, saying: “You can’t be playing with my emotions like this. Got me in the wrong lane.”
The socially-distanced Inspiration Games involved 28 athletes split into three teams taking part in eight events in seven different venues.
But Lyles was the only athlete on the track in Bradenton, Florida.
Competitors were connected by a live video and timing link and a split screen showed Lyles, racing for Team North America, make quick work of Team Europe’s Christophe Lemaitre in Zurich and Team World’s Churandy Martina in Papendal.
You can’t be playing with my emotions like this….
got me in the wrong lane smh ??♂️
— Noah Lyles (@LylesNoah) July 9, 2020
Lyles crossed the finishing line so far clear that he caused a flurry of comments on social media as his time flashed up.
“That cannot be right, can it?!” wondered former British Olympic middle distance runner Steve Cram, commentating for the BBC.
Noah Lyles started at the opposite side of the track but used the 400m start line so he actually crossed the finish line with 15m less than 200m. His time 18.90 would be ~20.40 at 200m and it was into a -3.7m/s wind. Incredible that organisors can make such mistake at this level. https://t.co/7VDUunB8S9
— PJ Vazel (@pjvazel) July 9, 2020
“He was miles in front of everybody, that is for sure,” replied fellow former Olympic silver medal holder Colin Jackson.
Sadly for Lyles, it turned out Cram was right.