US track star Noah Lyles says representing country at Olympics is ‘bittersweet’

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Not only is Noah Lyles the face of track and field in the United States, he just might be the face of the sport around the globe.

The 26-year-old is fresh off three gold medals in the World Championships last year in Budapest, and now he is gearing up for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Lyles is the heavy favorite to win the 200-meter, and he’s a candidate to break Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19. He’s set to compete in four events: the 100-, 200-, 4×100- and 4×400-meter races.

The U.S. has dominated the latter since the inception of the Olympics. They’ve won 18 of the 25 golds in the event, including eight of the last 10. However, no American has won the 100- or 200-meter since 2004, and the U.S. hasn’t won the 4×100 relay since 2000. So, all eyes will be on Lyles, as he represents the red, white and blue.

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Noah Lyles holding american flag

Noah Lyles celebrates after winning silver in the men’s 60-meter final during day one of the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2024 at Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. (Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

However, Lyles says representing the country is “contradicting.”

“It’s a bittersweet moment. I’m American, and I truly believe that we are the best in the world, especially when it comes to sports. We have definitely been proving that dominance. … And it feels good to add on to that collection that the U.S. is the best,” Lyles said in a recent interview with Fox News Digital.

“But at the same time, it’s with a heavy heart, because being Black in America, there’s a lot to deal with. I’m not going to go into everything, but it’s not easy. It’s hard to love the country that sometimes doesn’t love you back. 

“At the same time, you always want to put your best foot forward. So, it’s a little contradicting, it’s with a heavy heart, but it still makes you feel extremely proud because you are an American.”

Noah Lyles poses with gold medal

Gold medalist Noah Lyles of Team United States reacts after winning the men’s 100-meter final during day two of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Aug. 25, 2023. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Lyles admitted he’s thought about not participating in the sport because of his experiences, but “I feel I can do more good by staying in the sport and still fighting that fight and explaining my message through being in the sport.”

But as previously mentioned, the country is counting on Lyles to win golds and put the country on his back. That could certainly be a high-pressure situation for Lyles, but it’s not.

That’s because he wants to be the face of the sport.

Noah Lyles holds the flag

Noah Lyles of the United States celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men’s 200-meter final during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Aug. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

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“I feel that a lot of who I am has been a brand in pushing the sport and pushing the needle,” he said. “Which is something I’ve always worked towards. That’s why I have media days where I take interviews that are outside of track and field, why I take on most questions and not answer with ‘no comment.’”

“I want to be able to give my voice and my thoughts and see people look at the sport and be like, ‘Wow, I like that guy, I want to see more of him, I want to watch more of this sport.’ I don’t feel pressure from it because this is what I’ve asked for.”

The Olympics start on July 24, with track events to be held Aug. 1-11.

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