In the exhilarating world of athletics, 2023 has been stellar, witnessing breathtaking performances that have etched names like Noah Lyles in the nomination list for Athlete of the Year. It's not just the established stars in the spotlight; the up-and-coming talents are also receiving their due recognition from World Athletics.
Among the new talents making waves, Erriyon Knighton, America's sprinting prodigy, has been heralded as a finalist for the prestigious Rising Star Award. At just 19, Knighton sprinted to victory at the U.S. Championship and followed up with a scintillating silver finish behind Noah Lyles in the 200m event at the World Championships in Budapest.
While Lyles revels in Knighton's success, his sentiments are tinged with concern over the surprising omission of another promising sprinter from the nominations.
Lyles Advocates Inclusion
Noah Lyles, a six-time World Champion, is renowned for his candid expressions, and he didn't shy away from querying the exclusion of his peer, Lestile Tebogo.
Taking to social media, Lyles made his bewilderment public, praising Tebogo's accolades and querying the criteria for a "rising star," highlighting Tebogo's remarkable achievements that include two African records and medals at the Budapest Championship.
This public endorsement by Lyles reflects the camaraderie and mutual respect among athletes, even competitors. His voice has resonated with fans and fellow athletes, sparking a conversation about the age-related qualifications for the Rising Star category.
Lyles has suggested that the category should more accurately represent its age limitations, in fairness to exceptional athletes like Tebogo, who at 20, missed the cut-off. The debate has captured the attention of track and field enthusiasts, including the esteemed Justin Gatlin, a four-time World Champion.
On the Tidal League Podcast, Gatlin, when discussing the prospects of track and field, unexpectedly tipped Tebogo as the sport's forthcoming icon, despite the main topic being Lyles. Gatlin's admiration for Tebogo's impeccable technique and sprinting finesse is a testament to the young athlete's burgeoning reputation.
As anticipation builds towards the Paris Olympics, the track and field community is abuzz, pondering who among Knighton, Lyles, and the undeterred Tebogo will ascend to the pinnacle of sprinting glory. Though Tebogo may be absent from the Rising Stars roster, his presence on the starting blocks remains a formidable and captivating prospect for fans and competitors.