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Fred Kerley, Noah Lyles talk a big game before track worlds 100m

2023 World Track and Field Championships preview
Leigh Diffey and four-time Olympic medalist Ato Boldon discuss the biggest storylines ahead of the 2023 World Track and Field Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

BUDAPEST — Noah Lyles told his followers before the world championships that he’s going to run the 100m in 9.65 seconds, which would make him the second-fastest man in history.

Fred Kerley, the defending champion, had a response to that.

“I’m Fred Kerley. This is my title,” he said while sitting a few seats from Lyles at a news conference Friday, the day before the meet starts and two days before the men’s 100m final. “If Noah’s going to run 9.65, then I’m running faster.”

Lyles quickly quipped, “That’s what they all say until they get beat.”

TRACK AND FIELD WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Only Usain Bolt has ever run faster than 9.65 — his world record 9.58 from 2009 and 9.63 in the 2012 Olympic final.

Lyles, a two-time world champion in the 200m, has a 100m personal best of 9.86. His best time this year is 9.94, seeding him outside the top 10 in the world championships field.

Yet he predicts a 100m medal in his first time racing the distance at a global championship. Lyles also expects no less than a third world title in the 200m and believes he can break Bolt’s world record in that event of 19.19.

His confidence stems from times he clocked in practice and in his most recent meet that are faster than what he ran leading up to last year’s worlds, where he won the 200m in an American record 19.31.

“I don’t have a problem saying what my dreams are,” said Lyles, whose docuseries, “Untitled: The Noah Lyles Project,” premiered on Peacock on Friday. “If you believe you’re going to run fast, you don’t believe in yourself. I don’t care if you guys think I can do it or not. I don’t even care if I don’t do it. But I’m definitely going to say what I believe I can do. Because if I can’t tell that to myself, then how am I going to believe it’s going to happen?”

Kerley, whose personal best is 9.76, added an “Amen” to that.

The two Americans were also in agreement when it came to questions about Italian Marcell Jacobs, who has missed several meets due to injury since his surprise Olympic 100m title in Tokyo.

Jacobs said he’s “feeling OK” going into worlds, having run a single 100m this season — a seventh-place finish in 10.21 seconds in Paris on June 9.

An Italian journalist asked Lyles and Kerley what they expect from Jacobs this weekend.

“I know what form he’s in. We all saw it,” said Lyles, who won that 100m race in Paris.

Kerley, who traded social media barbs with Jacobs this spring, concurred.

“I don’t think we’re too much worried about him at this moment,” he said.