Black Excellence in Alexandria: Noah Lyles
Jeremy Young '24
Athletics were in the family for Noah Lyles; his parents were both track runners at Seton Hall and his brother, Josephus, is also a professional track runner. He was born in Gainesville, Florida but moved to Alexandria and attended the local high school previously known as T.C. Williams. Noah and Josephus excelled at track and field; Noah won high school boys athlete of the year by Track and Field News in 2015. Noah also won gold in the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing in the 200m at the age of 17. He won three golds and one silver medal in the 2015 and 2016 U20 Championships. In 2016 Noah went to the Olympic trials but missed the mark to qualify by 0.09 seconds.
After his 2016 senior season in high school, both Noah and Josephus were committed to run track and field at the University of Florida, but just a few weeks before heading to Florida, both brothers decided to go professional and signed eight-year deals with Adidas. Going pro out of high school was next to unheard of for track runners as Noah and Josephus were the first male track runners to do so. The move seems to have worked as Noah Lyles continued to excel, winning the gold at the 2019 World Championships in Doha in the 200m and the 4x100m relay.
Heading into the 2020 Olympics, Noah Lyles seemed positioned to be the favorite to win the gold. The U.S. has struggled in the 200m, having not won a gold medal in that event since 2004. Lyles struggled in the 100m finishing seventh out of eight runners. He recovered well in the 200m but still fell short of lofty expectations, bringing home a bronze medal. This setback has only helped to motivate the 24-year-old Lyles saying, “Not having a gold medal is going to make me extremely hungry. Not having the Olympics go how I planned it to go really made me strive, think in my head I’m going to miss some people up in these next few years.”
Noah Lyles’ impact has extended far beyond the track, Noah Lyles has been outspoken on the issues of mental health. Lyles has talked about his own mental health struggles through high school and especially around the pandemic, which he said intensified his anxiety and depression. “Speak up, tell somebody. Nobody can help you if you’re not saying anything. Seek professional help. Of course your friends and family are great, but none of them are trained to actually get you through this. Find a therapist that really works for you, not every therapist is for each person so find one that you resonate with. Be open to the ideas, because whatever you have been doing has not been working.” He has also founded the Lyles Brothers Sports Foundation with his brother Josephus, which aims to foster relationships in the sports community. Since the Olympics, Lyles has been traveling the country and speaking to audiences, even coming back to speak at Alexandria City High School in September.