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Norman stuns Lyles to win 200m in Rome

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Rome (AFP)

Noah Lyles conceded he was shocked after being beaten for the first time in nearly three years by fellow American Michael Norman at the men's 200m in Rome's Diamond League meeting on Thursday.

Norman, 21, got off to a blistering start and held on despite a late surge by Lyles, also 21, in Rome's Olympic Stadium to achieve a world leading time for the season of 19.70sec.

Lyles, winner of the past two Diamond League trophies over the distance, posted 19.72sec, with Ecuador's Alex Quinonez a distant third in 20.17sec.

World champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey trailed in fourth in 20.35sec ahead of his title defence at the world championships in Doha in September.

"This race didn't really go as I expected," said Lyles, who had not been beaten since the US trials in July 2016 which saw him fail to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

Since then he has claimed nine straight victories and dominated the Diamond League in 2017 and 2018, but missed the world championships two years ago due to an injury.

"Winning is what is always expected, but I ran faster than in the last race so I can feel great things will happen," he said.

"The next competitions are in the USA, and before thinking of the World Championships, I have to make the team. It's really a question of making or not making the team.

"I need to stay healthy, improve my start, as much my finish, so I can come out strong."

One-lap sensation Norman, more a 400m specialist, had posted the fourth best time ever of 43.45sec in California in April, before winning in chilly conditions in Stockholm in 44.53sec last week.

Pushed by Lyles he crushed his own personal best record over 200m (19.84sec) for the 12th best time in history.

Both athletes are now among the favourites for the worlds which run from September 27 to October 6 where they are bidding for their first international medals.

"I am really happy with the time, there was a good flow, it was amazing," said Norman.

"I did not have any expectations coming into this race."

"I still have a lot of technical issues with myself, like: be patient," added the Californian.

"I just want to improve myself and not chase a time.

"I was a lot stronger today and I tried to hold the composure. I want to go back and work with my coach."

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