Noah Lyles celebrates after winning the 100-meter at the Diamond League stop on May 18, 2019 in Shanghai.
Youth Olympian Noah Lyles or Olympian Christian Coleman — who’s the fastest man in the 100-meter? It took a photo finish to answer the question at Saturday’s Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, but the answer was Lyles — by a leg.
Both sprinters crossed the line in 9.86 seconds in the marquee matchup of the day in China, the second of 12 Diamond League meetings to be held in 2019. Visual evidence, however, proved Lyles the winner, though both men walked away with the satisfaction of having recorded a world best time so far this season.
The Lyles/Coleman matchup provided one of four first-place finishes recorded by Team USA athletes inside Shanghai Stadium. Aleia Hobbs was the class of the field in an impressive women’s 100-meter field, running 11.03, four hundredths of a second ahead of Nigeria’s multi-talented Blessing Okagbare, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the long jump, as well as Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the 2016 Olympic champion in the 100-meter, who finished third in 11.14.
The result came despite Hobbs having fractured her wrist two weeks ago playing laser tag, limiting her to block starts leading up to the Diamond League contest.
“Today is my biggest win,” a beaming Hobbs said after the race. “I knew what I needed to do. I needed to start well, which I did, and I managed to hang on.”
In the men’s 400-meter, Fred Kerley led an American sweep with a season-best time of 44.81 seconds, followed by Michael Cherry, who clocked 45.48 seconds, and Nathan Strother, who crossed the line in 45.52.
While positive about the W, Kerley still sees room for improvement in his upcoming races.
“My goal was to get out well and finish strongly,” he said. “I believe I got out well but maybe could have finished stronger. The aim was to win, so this sets me up nicely for the rest of the season.”
Chase Ealey delivered the fourth American victory of the meet courtesy of a 19.58-meter throw with the shot put, ahead of two-time Olympic medalist Gong Lijiao of China, one of Ealing’s heroes, whose best effort yielded 19.44 meters and second place.
“To compete against Gong Lijiao was a little nerve-wracking because I have looked up to her for so long,” Ealey commented. “I’ve changed coaches and changed to the rotational technique ten months ago and I feel that has made all the difference.”
Benjamin Rai and Olympian Sydney McLaughlin each recorded season’s best performances, coming away with second place finishes in the men’s 400-meter hurdles and women’s 400-meter, respectively, to cap off a day in which nine Team USA athletes stood on the podium.
Rai’s 47.8 seconds in the 400 hurdles was a season-best mark for him, though not quite enough to catch Qatar’s speedy Abderrahman Samba, who clocked a Diamond League-record 47.27. McLaughlin’s 50.78 in the 400 was better than all but Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, whose 50.65 seconds gave her the title.