Lyles seals sprint double before world championships

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - American Noah Lyles completed a sprint double with victory in the 200 metres at the Diamond League finals on Friday to add to last week’s 100 title before he seeks to be crowned world champion for the first time later this month.

Athletics - Diamond League - Brussels - King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium - September 6, 2019 Noah Lyles of the U.S. poses as he celebrates after winning the Men's 200m REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

In the last major meeting before the world championships in Doha starting on Sept. 27, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith also put down a marker with victory in the women’s 100 metres.

Lyles was pushed by Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev and Canada’s Andre de Grasse, with both running season’s bests.

Lyles, 22, had talked on Thursday of wanting to improve on his personal best, but on a cold wet evening in Brussels he had to settle for a still respectable 19.74 seconds.

The American said it had started to rain just before the gun went off, while two of the pins on his bib popped off. He also felt a sudden urge to use the bathroom for the first time ever in a race.

“It was chaotic to be honest, a lot happened in that race,” Lyles said.

“That’s when the race became a lot more complicated... This was definitely a test.”

In a photo finish, Guliyev came second, just ahead of De Grasse.

Lyles has broken through in the past two years and bettered Usain Bolt’s Paris Diamond League record for 200 metres last month.

He also became the first man in the Diamond League’s 10-year history to win both the 100 and 200 metres titles in the same season, having won the shorter sprint in Zurich last week.

Nevertheless, he will only run the longer distance in Qatar, saying he is not so strong over the 100 metres.

The women’s 100 on Friday was a straight foot race between Asher-Smith, 23, and 32-year-old Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Briton showing greater stamina in the final strides to finish a metre or two ahead in 10.88 seconds, her best time of 2019. Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast was third.

Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who had run the world leading time in the 100, had qualified but opted out of the race to prepare for Doha.

Asher-Smith, who won the sprint double at the European championships in Berlin last year, will compete in both the 100 and 200 metres in Qatar.

“My aim this year was to make sure I could translate my performance to be one of the top athletes in the world... You’ve got to take it to a different level. Europeans are great, but worlds and Olympics are different things,” she said.

The closest finish was in the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase as Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale held off a surge from Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali to win in eight minutes, 6.92 seconds.

There was drama ahead of the women’s 100 metres hurdles as Nigerian Tobi Amusan was disqualified for coming out of her blocks in 0.096 seconds, just ahead of the permitted 0.1 reaction time.

After long protests and boos from the crowd, Danielle Williams of Jamaica won the race in 12.46 seconds.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis