Christian Coleman claims to be ‘greatest ever’ at 60m after world indoor gold

Sprinting’s antihero has his mojo back. On a stormy evening in Glasgow’s East End, Christian Coleman captured the world indoor 60m title with a display of dazzling acceleration and controlled aggression.

The confrontation with his great American rival Noah Lyles came down to a simple comparison. Would Coleman, the world record holder in the 60 meters, put the race to bed early with his fireworks start? Or could Lyles, the reigning world champion in the 100 and 200 meters, stay within striking distance and catch him at the death?

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

“Even a few weeks ago I had some hiccups in my training, but I feel like I am made for moments like this,” said Coleman, who also won this title in 2018, afterwards. “I think I’m the best 60m runner ever, 100%. But the exciting thing is that I feel like my ceiling is so much higher.”

Asked the secret of his fast start, Coleman replied: “You have to put in those 10,000 hours. Get the reps over and over again. I put a lot of work into 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 outcome Athletics necessarily wanted, as Coleman had previously served an 18-month ban for three residency failures in a 12-month period. The American is certainly not a real showman, but he emphasized afterwards that he is a completely different person outside the spotlight. And, he claimed, a very different man after missing the Tokyo Olympics because of his missed tests.

“Everything happens for a reason and I feel like God has been with me the whole time,” he said. “I feel more excited because I’m in my prime and I have the opportunity in front of me.”

Lyles wasn’t too disappointed with a silver medal as he is better over longer distances and had just run the second fastest time of his life.

“Hurry up, what a great indoor season,” he said. “They say I wasn’t 60, but look at me now. If I beat these guys in the 60 meters, they really don’t have a chance in the outdoors.”

He insisted that despite the result, he was not afraid of Coleman when they competed again in the Olympics this summer. “I’m never afraid,” he said. “I’m always excited. I dramatically increased the worst part of my race and I’m ready to go home and apply it to the 100 and 200 meters.”

Elsewhere, there was a big shock on the first night of these world indoor championships when Australian Nicola Olyslagers won the high jump with a leap of 1.99 metres.

That proved good enough to beat reigning world champion and pre-event favourite, Yaroslava Mahuchikh, to silver, while Britain’s Morgan Lake finished sixth with a distance of 1.92 metres.

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“It didn’t really go according to plan from the beginning,” Lake said. “If you miss the opening height, you always end up in the background.”

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

Bell, 30, who combines training with a full-time job in cybersecurity, looked impressive during qualifying in 4min 04:39sec. But afterwards she admitted that an interview she gave mid-week, in which she said she would quit her job to focus on the Paris Olympics, had worried her bosses. “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’s fine.’ But they really supported us.”

Georgia Bell advances to the final of the 1500 meters. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA

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

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