There is no such thing as the new Usain Bolt. Just as Bolt was not the new Carl Lewis. Not even Lewis the new Jesse Owens.
Many journalists are tempted to label our sports icons by comparing or directly equating them with others instead of honoring them for what they and their achievements represent. In other words: there is no better recognition than that of being the best version of each self.
Perhaps that’s why the first thing that comes to mind after the penultimate day of the World Athletics Budapest 2023 World Championship is to announce that, finally, thanks to his triple crown, Noah Lyles appears as the real successor of Usain Bolt. Error and truth in the same concept. An error, because, both objectively and subjectively, I can’t imagine seeing someone alive capable of generating something similar to that of the Jamaican. Objectives were his results, starting with an Olympic triple triple gold between Beijing and Rio (his quadruple world triple was only interrupted by the false start of the 100 in Daegu 2011). Subjective is the energy that each performance produced in all of us from the explosion in 2008 to his retirement in London 2017.
This is true because, in fact, Lyles’ successes in the 100, 200 and the final score make him the concrete symbol of the resurrection of North American speed, even above the expectations generated some time ago by Christian Coleman, whose oscillations on and off the tracks leave him far from the figure of his teammate.
Beyond the special closing of the day, Day 8 of Budapest 2023 added other golden and great performances.
Chase Ealey won her second world title -she won gold at Eugene 2022- in shot put and she did it in a great way. The 29-year-old North American far surpassed her rivals and dominated the event with a mark of 20.43 meters, her season best and with a distance of 35 centimeters compared to the silver medal won by Canadian Sarah Mitton. Olympic champion in Tokyo and multiple world medalist, Lijiao Gong finished third.
In terms of track testing, the men’s decathlon ended after the 1.500-meter final. Canadian Pierce LePage won gold with a sum of 8909 points earned over the ten tests. His compatriot, Damian Warren came second with 8804 points and Lindon Victor was third with 8756. It was also a great day for Canada. In addition to the silver in shot put and 1-2 in the decathlon, Marco Arop became champion of the 800 meters. The 24-year-old, born in Sudan but competing for Canada, won his first world title.
On the other hand, Faith Kipyegon made it very clear that everything gained in the 1500 meters can also be repeated in the 5000. The Kenyan won her first world title in this distance and won her second gold medal in Budapest. The great Siffan Hassan won the silver medal while the bronze went to the other Kenyan, Beatrice Chebet.
The double North American success at the end of the day and its own solvency ended up minimizing the new enormous demonstration of Duplantis, which sentenced his victory long before his 6.23-meter nulls in pole vault.
It is likely that not having surpassed the historic mark again was the most direct way to put his enormous hierarchy into context and that, sometimes, we will only highlight his status as champion.
Isn’t it great that an athlete has won fewer world and Olympic titles than times he broke the world record?