BY Stephen Nartey, 6:10pm June 28, 2024,

Noah Lyles opens up about emotional struggles that made it difficult for him to talk

Noah Lyles. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Zenfolio - Erki Pictures

American sprint sensation Noah Lyles has revealed the challenges he faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, struggling with isolation and fatigue. The six-time world champion, now aiming for Olympic gold in Paris this summer, recently qualified with a stunning 9.83-second 100m.

However, Lyles, 26, shared with TIME that he felt “so empty” despite his 200m victory at the 2019 world championships and was left battling what felt like a “constant asthma attack” during the lockdown.

“I could barely talk,” Lyles said. “I was so tired. All the time. Even thinking was a drain. It felt like you were almost in a constant asthma attack.

“You know there’s more room in your lungs, but you can’t physically use the muscles to actually take that breath.”

Lyles’ condition worsened in May 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

“I just remember constantly thinking, That could be me,” Lyles added.

As a child, Lyles battled severe asthma, preventing him from having toys or teddy bears due to dust concerns that could exacerbate his condition. His asthma left him with a bark-like cough, leading some to mistake him for a dog from afar.

“One day I was on a conference call for work,” his mother Keisha told TIME. “And the supervisor said, ‘Could somebody take their dog out?'”

Lyles was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia. He also battled “ruthless” bullying while at school, branding it: “An emotional beating, that’s the stuff that really breaks you down.”

Despite his challenges, 26-year-old Lyles has become a top sprinter. He sparked controversy last summer by questioning why NBA players call themselves “world champions” after winning a title.

Lyles was further irked during contract negotiations with Adidas when the company invited him to a shoe release for Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards.

“You want to do what?” Lyles recalled. “You want to invite me to (an event for) a man who has not even been to an NBA Finals? In a sport that you don’t even care about? And you’re giving him a shoe? 

“No disrespect: the man is an amazing athlete. He is having a heck of a year. I love that they saw the insight to give him a shoe, because they saw that he was going to be big. 

“All I’m asking is, ‘How could you not see that for me?'”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 28, 2024

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