Noah Lyles Hits Back at World Athletics Over U20 Award Snub

Botswana's Letsile Tebogo stuns with record-breaking sprints

by Zain ul Abedin
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Noah Lyles Hits Back at World Athletics Over U20 Award Snub
© Hannah Peters/Getty Images Sport

As the track and field community eagerly anticipates the recognition of burgeoning talent, Noah Lyles, a towering figure in the sport, cast a spotlight on what he perceives as a significant oversight by World Athletics. The six-time World Champion, who has dazzled the world with his prowess, clinching three gold medals in August across the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m events a feat unseen since the era of Usain Bolt has expressed his doubt over the exclusion of a noteworthy athlete from the Men’s Rising Star Award finalists announced on November 2nd.

Lyles, renowned for his forthright stance on issues within the sport, took to social media to voice his astonishment and seek clarity. "Quick question, what constitutes a rising star? Because I'm shocked to see Tebogo is not on this list.

Silver in the 100, Bronze in the 200, Broke 2 African records," he articulated, referencing the accomplishments of sprinter Letsile Tebogo from Botswana. While the shortlist featured accomplished athletes like Roshawn Clarke, Erriyon Knighton, and Emmanuel Wanyonyi, Lyles' interrogation drew attention to Tebogo's conspicuous absence.

The 20-year-old sensation has been a force to be reckoned with since his debut at the World Athletics Relays in Poland in 2021. His ascendancy in track and field has been marked by record-breaking performances, earning him a place in the spotlight.

Tebogo's Meteoric Rise

Tebogo's track record boasts a storied history of rapid ascension. Not only did he clinch gold in the 100 meters and silver in the 200 at the World Under-20 Championships a month after his international debut, but he also shattered the 10-second barrier in the 100 meters in 2022, the first Botswanan to do so, lowering his personal best to a scorching 9.96 seconds.

At the 2023 World Athletics Championships, Tebogo continued to impress with a silver medal in the 100 meters and a bronze in the 200 meters, which underscored his rising profile. Moreover, as the 200m African champion of 2022 and the youngest to ever secure the title, Tebogo not only holds the three fastest junior times in history but is also acclaimed by Olympics.com as 'the fastest young 100m runner in history.'

Given Tebogo's trajectory, which mirrors the high standards set by athletics legends, his exclusion from the World Athletics Rising Star nominations has raised eyebrows and questions. With eyes turning towards the 2024 Paris Olympics, Tebogo is anticipated to be more than just a contender; he is expected to be a formidable force in the quest for gold, marking him as an athlete deserving of recognition in any discussion of "rising stars."

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