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5/19/2024 by Barbara Huebner

Olympic Stars Knock It Out of the Park at adidas Atlanta City Games

If his coach advised him to save his energy for the 150-meter race that awaited, Noah Lyles didn't listen. Instead, the six-time World Champion turned himself into a human pogo-stick when he was introduced at Saturday's adidas Atlanta City Games, springing up the track toward the starting blocks - then turning around and tying the American Record.

"I wanted the World Record, but I'll settle for tying the American," he said in a post-race interview on the track. "I'm hype, I'm excited to come out here. I get excited to hear the fans. I want to hear some noise from the front to back, side to side." As the crowd obliged, Lyles grabbed the microphone and returned the favor: "Thank you, Atlanta!"

Photo: Kevin Morris

His winning time of 14.41, set as swirling winds died down under the threatening skies, tied the mark set by Tyson Gay in 2010 - and was faster than the 14.56 he ran here last year before going on to win three gold medals at the World Championships.

"They said it was going to rain and I said 'it ain't going to rain' and guess what? It didn't rain on me," he said, playfully adding that what fans got instead was a chance to witness another chapter in his "reign of dominance."

Lyles was among the more than two dozen Olympic and World Championship medalists who competed on a specially built, elevated track in the Meadow at Piedmont Park, with a temporary pole vault runway and long jump pit constructed for field-event action. With the start of the Olympic Games just two months away, the event offered Atlantans a closeup look at some of the biggest stars they will see in Paris.

Also repeating as champions at the City Games, which returned to Atlanta after its debut here last year, were six-time World Champion Grant Holloway in the 110-meter hurdles and Aleia Hobbs in the 100 meters.

Hobbs, a 2022 World Champion in the 4x100-meter relay, was among the athletes who arrived at the park dressed for a hip red carpet, giving fans a taste of fashion and a chance for selfies before changing into work clothes.

"Honestly, this is probably one of the most fun meets I've ever been to," said Hobbs, after an impromptu dance on the track. "I was saying that last year was fun, but this year is even more fun. The fans, the kids, I love them so much. They make me feel like I have to get out there and do something."

Among the other key moments - some fun, some competitive, some both:

  • Tara Davis-Woodhall pausing in the long-jump pit for an "om" yoga pose after a fifth- round jump of 23 feet, 6.25 inches that would prove to be the winner.
  • 19-year-old Mattia Furlani besting his long-jump rivals with a jump of 26 feet, 5.50 inches just three days after setting a World Under-20 Record of 27 feet. 5.25 inches at a meet in his native Italy. After demurring that his English isn't good (Note: It's just fine), the teenager described the week as "Crazy. Two days ago, I jump the World Record, now It's crazy with the time [difference] and the travel. It made it difficult, but the important thing is to win today. I am so happy."
Photo: Kevin Morris
  • NCAA Division II Indoor Champion Brynn King jumping 14 feet, 10.75 inches to upset World Indoor Champion Molly Caudery of Great Britain in the pole vault.
  • Former Georgia high school star Candace Hill, competing on her home turf for the first time since turning professional during her junior year at Rocket Magnet School for Science and Technology in Conyers, equaled Tori Bowie's American Record in the 150 meters. The 25-year-old, a multiple world youth champion who in 2015 became the first high school girl to break 11 seconds for 100 meters, won in 16.30. Citing the family, friends, coaches and former teammates who came out to watch, she said, "Atlanta is my hometown. It's just a really exciting atmosphere, to be able to win."
Photo: Kevin Morris

Hill's victory came right after a race that put today's Georgia high school stars in the spotlight - the girls' 100 meters, won by Sanaa Frederick of Druid Hills in 11.51. Frederick, a six-time GHSA 4A state champion at 100 and 200 meters, is headed to the University of Georgia along with her twin sister, Sole.

A high school boys' 110-meter hurdles also gave the next generation a chance to shine on the same stage as the world's best athletes. That race was won by Dominiq Northington of Woodland High School in Stockbridge, in 13.90. Northington's time of 13.65 in winning the GHSA 4A title last week is the fastest in the state this year.

The Meadow in Piedmont Park will be filled with runners again soon, as 50,000 participants in the AJC Peachtree Road Race will descend on finish-line festivities there at the race's 55th Running on July 4. Information and registration are available here.

The day's action kicked off with the adidas Atlanta City Games - Youth, a series of age-group and high school sprint races plus a high school pole vault, and was scheduled to end with the Midtown Mile, which was postponed until 6 p.m. Sunday night due to storms that rolled in after the track events concluded. At the Midtown Mile, state 1,600-meter record-holder Tommy Latham will attempt to become the first Georgia high school athlete to break the 4-minute-mile barrier.

Complete results of the adidas Atlanta City Games are available here.