Noah Lyles may have clinched bronze for Team USA in the men's 200-meter sprint in Tokyo, but it was his post-race interview that has hearts swelling.
On Wednesday, the 24-year-old from Virginia sprinted 200 meters in 19.74 seconds, finishing third behind teammate Kenny Bednarek, who took silver in 19.68, and Canadian Andre de Grasse won gold with a time of 19.50 seconds.
"I felt like I was running for my life," Lyles told NBC Sports after the race, while being shown a video of his family in Washington, D.C., celebrating. "I knew they'd be happy no matter what I did."
Wrapped in American flags, Lyles and Bednarek took a post-race lap around the track.
“We were talking about me and my brother," Lyles later told a group of reporters and was quoted by Washington Post. "It’s been really hard for me watching him train as hard as he has.”
Lyles' brother Josephus is also an elite sprinter and made it to the Olympic trials, but ultimately fell short of qualifying for the Tokyo Games in June. The pair live and train together in Clermont, Florida.
“I thank God every day I’m able to come out here, but at the same time, this wasn’t even my dream,” Lyles said through tears. “In 2012, my brother had the dream that he was going to come to the Olympics, and I’d really just tag along for the ride. Sometimes I think to myself, you know, this should be him.”
Lyles also revealed he has struggled with his mental health, especially over the course of the last year.
“I always said the day I wasn’t having fun with this sport, I’m going to leave it,” Lyles said, adding that he cycled off antidepressants he began taking in 2020 to prepare for the Olympics. “And for a little bit, I wasn’t having fun this year. I did want to leave. I had to make a decision. I was like, I got to get better. I can’t let this control me.”
Lyles told NBC his mom, Keisha Cane, is his biggest inspiration.
"My mom is a hard worker," Lyles said. "I remember her saying constantly, 'I don't care what the job is, as long as I'm able to make money for my family, I will do the job, and I'm going to do to the best of my ability.' To be honest, that's my approach to life. Whatever hobby I get into."