Christian Coleman claims to be ‘the greatest ever’ after world indoor gold

<span>Christian Coleman pips Noah Lyles to the 60m title in Glasgow.</span><span>Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters</span>
Christian Coleman pips Noah Lyles to the 60m title in Glasgow.Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Sprinting’s anti-hero has his mojo back. On a boisterous night in Glasgow’s East End, Christian Coleman powered to the world indoor 60m title with a display of staggering acceleration and controlled aggression.

The showdown with his great American rival Noah Lyles came down to a simple equation. Would Coleman, the world 60m record holder, put the race to bed early with his firecracker start? Or could Lyles, the reigning 100m and 200m world champion, remain within striking distance and get him at the death?

Exactly 6.41 seconds later we had our answer: Coleman. The 27-year-old never looked like relinquishing his lead from the gun, as he powered home to take gold. Lyles had to settle for silver in 6.44, with Ackeem Blake picking up bronze in 6.46.

“Even a few weeks ago I was having a few hiccups in my training but I feel like I am made for these types of moments,” Coleman said afterwards. “I think I am the greatest 60m runner ever, 100%. But the exciting part is that I feel like my ceiling is so much higher.”

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Asked about the secret to his fast start, Coleman replied: “You got to put those 10,000 hours in. Get the reps in time and time again. I put in a lot of work in the weight room and the video room. I don’t know what the secret is, you’ll have to ask God.”

This was not the result athletics necessarily wanted, given Coleman has previously served an 18-month ban for three whereabouts failures in a 12-month period. The American is hardly a natural showman either, but he insisted afterwards that away from the spotlight he is a very different person. And, he maintained, a very different man after missing the Tokyo Olympics due to his missed tests.

“Everything happens for a reason and I feel God has been with me all the way,” he said. “I feel more excited about being in my prime and having the opportunity in front of me.”

Lyles was not too disappointed with a silver medal given he is better over longer distances and had just run the second fastest time of his life.

“Shoot, what an amazing indoor season,” he said. “They say I wasn’t a 60 guy but look at me now. If I’m beating these guys in the 60m, they’ve really got no chance in the outdoors.”

He insisted that despite the result he wasn’t afraid of Coleman when they raced again at this summer’s Olympics. “I am never afraid,” he said. “I am always excited. I have increased the worst part of my race by drastic numbers and I’m just ready to go back home and apply it to the 100m and 200m.”

Elsewhere there was a major shock on the first night of these world indoor championships as the Australian Nicola Olyslagers won the high jump with a leap of 1.99m.

That proved good enough to beat the reigning world champion and pre-event favourite, Yaroslava Mahuchikh, into silver, with Britain’s Morgan Lake sixth with a clearance of 1.92m.

“It didn’t really go to plan from the start,” said Lake. “When you miss your opening height, it always puts you on the back foot.”

There was better news for Britain in the women’s 1500m as Georgia Bell and Revée Walcott-Nolan both qualified comfortably for Sundaytomorrow’s 1500m final.

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The 30-year-old Bell, who combines training with a full-time job in cyber-security, looked impressive in qualifying in 4min 04:39sec. But afterwards she admitted that an interview she had given in midweek saying she might quit her job to focus on the Paris Olympics had her bosses worried. “I got a lot of emails from work saying, ‘What’s going on? Is there anything you want to tell us?’” she said. “I was like: ‘Ah no, everything is fine’. But they’ve been really supportive.”

Bell, who was a talented junior who only returned to running in lockdown, added: “I’ve had lots of nice messages saying ‘you’ve inspired me to get back into parkrun.’”

Meanwhile, Britain’s athletes will be hoping to have a Super Saturday at these championships with three potential medal chances. Laura Muir, the Olympic 1500m silver medallist, runs in the 3,000m final, shortly before world 1500m champion Josh Kerr runs in the men’s final over the same distance. Another Briton, Molly Cauldrey, has the world lead in the pole vault.