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“I am not defined by being an Olympic bronze medalist, or a gold medal world champion, or the high schooler who went pro,” he had said that night. “That’s not who I am. I’m Noah Lyles. I’m not Usain Bolt’s successor. I’m not Andre de Grasse’s successor. I’m nobody’s successor. I am me, and that’s who I will always be.”

On Thursday night, Lyles will take on Knighton, the 18-year-old phenom seen in track circles as both his and Bolt’s successor. Knighton finished fourth in the 200 in Tokyo and has broken Bolt’s junior record at the distance.

So far in Oregon, Knighton has been calm, composed and fast. He won his semifinal heat in 19.77 seconds, compared with 19.62 for Lyles.

Knighton described Lyles on Tuesday as a “good friend.”

“We try to push each other on the track as much as we can,” he said of Lyles.

The comparisons with Bolt and the expectations that his performances have wrought have not changed him, Knighton said. He’s the same person he was last year, with one difference.

“I’m faster,” he said.

For Lyles, the differences are hard to overstate.

“The last time I had this much fun was 2018,” he said in Eugene. “I have energy, and I’m in shape, and I’m like ‘Yo, come on, let’s have fun.’”

Noah Lyles Is Ready for His Moment This Time – iNow

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