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Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Noah Lyles Returns

Noah+Lyles+Returns

Nora Malone

Editor

The son of two track stars, one of whom was an Adidas athlete. It would seem that running was in Noah Lyles’ blood. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t try just as hard to get to the Olympics. 

“When I first started I was really just doing it because my dad was the coach,” Lyles said, “ I wanted to test out how fast I was. I knew I was fast, but was I the best? And I figured out quite early I wasn’t, so I actually started doing high jump.”

But that didn’t last long. In eighth grade, Lyles switched to track, and two years later, as a student at T.C. Williams, now Alexandria City High School, he won gold in the Youth Olympic Games in the 200 meters and realized then what his goal was.

“Me and my brother decided in 2012 we were going to make a goal to make the 2016 Olympic Team.” said Lyles, who graduated that year.

Lyles did not meet that goal, but 2016 was not a failure for him. He broke records in the 200 and 300 meter, and was signed as an Adidas athlete with his brother, Josephus, another titan. 

Once he realized that the 2016 Olympic Games weren’t going to happen, the 24-year-old set a new goal: the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. But the path to get there was not an easy one. With the delay of the Games and the stress of the pandemic. Many, including Lyles, struggled with mental health.

“With everybody dealing with the pandemic people began to realize that, you know maybe we’re not so okay.”

Lyles has always been outspoken on mental health; he speaks freely in interviews and on his social media about his therapists and his beliefs on the stigma surrounding mental health.

“Me and my brother and my mom have felt that we always wanted to push not just an athletic career… so when we started the Lyles Brother Sports Foundation we actually said that mental health was going to be one of the things that we pushed very hard.”  

The Lyles Brothers Sports Foundation has now had events in five different states, including here in Alexandria, to help people understand their mental health. The goal is to empower and uplift youth and allow them to understand and improve their health and wellness.

Lyles uses his own experiences with mental health to help those he works with, “I want people to look at [what I do] and say if he’s willing to admit he needs help then I feel like I can go out and admit I need help”. 

Lyles has referred to this year’s Olympics as “the Olympics of Mental Health” because many people had to compete without the people who support them, whether that be family, coaches, or even fans. 

“Not having a support system you’ve grown with your whole life is a challenge because you don’t have that person to rely on… when they’re not there close to you, you tend to try and think that you’re alone and you’ll figure things out by yourself.”

Not only did the pandemic limit athletes’ support systems but it stopped them from socializing with other athletes. 

“The track world is very small so you know almost everybody who’s on [the track] and usually track meets are how you see all your friends, so when that stopped happening you didn’t really get to see all your friends as much.”

Lyles’ Olympic debut was a success and he brought home a bronze medal for the United States, but his feelings about it are complicated. He hopes to compete in Paris in 2024.

“I wanted gold and fortunately I got bronze and a lot of people see that as a great accomplishment and you know what, it is a great accomplishment,” he said, “but I also believe that I was out there for something greater and now that I don’t have it, it just makes me more hungry to go after a gold.”

Photo Courtesy of Ms. Charly Liss

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