Olympic Sprinter Noah Lyles Talks Staying 'Focused' in His Training and Mental Health to Win Gold

Olympian Noah Lyles talks to PEOPLE about how he stays "focused" on his "No. 1 goal" of bringing home a gold medal for Team USA

Noah Lyles of the United States reacts after winning the Men's 200 metres during the Herculis EBS Monaco 2020 Diamond League.
Photo: Daniel Cole/Pool via Getty

Noah Lyles is headed to his first Olympics!

At the U.S. track and field trials in June, the Florida native, 23, clocked in the world's fastest 200m time of 2021 with 19.74 seconds and qualified for the Tokyo Games. Lyles — who has delivered the four fastest 200m times in the world since 2016 — is the frontrunner to bring home gold for Team USA. It'll be even more impressive, as no American male has won in the 200m at the Olympics since Shawn Crawford in 2004.

Lyles, who failed to qualify at the 2016 Olympic trials after placing fourth in the event, previously spoke to PEOPLE about his preparation for Tokyo and how he stays "focused" on his "No. 1 goal" of bringing home gold.

"The 200m has been my main focus, perfecting it to the best of my abilities," he said, adding that his training has been "focused, but with a light heart because I still want to be me and I'm a very lighthearted guy."

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Noah Lyles winning the Men's 200 Meter Final during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
Andy Lyons/Getty

In addition to training on the track, Lyles has been keeping his mental game strong with the support of his team as well as his family.

"I've been using a sports therapist since I was in high school, so around age 16," he said. "We've been working together for many years, and I also have a personal therapist that deals with everyday life situations. Mental health is actually very important in how keeping my sanity is really keeping my family around. Even my close friends around just to help me get through tough times because the family is the ones who see you go through your hardships the most. They are the ones who are right there with you so they know what it takes or how much importance it is."

His mother, Keisha Caine, has been instrumental in his Olympic dreams.

"We know what our goal is and we know that we've had it for since 2012 now and so through the day-to-day, we know the main thing that we try to focus on," Caine told PEOPLE. "No. 1 is keeping his body healthy, making sure that the asthma doesn't creep up or that he's not too fatigued or he's getting enough sleep. So that's the physical side of the preparation. The mental and emotional side, a lot of times, sometimes you have to just block out the social media and what the media is saying. You have to kind of put yourself in a bubble because a lot of times that can be a distraction."

Off the track, Lyles also dabbles in recording original music, telling PEOPLE that he enjoys making music when he can. And amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the athlete released a song titled "A Black Life" on SoundCloud. "I always think to myself what more can I do to help spread the word of injustice. This time I decided to use music. This song explains the pain and fear that almost all Black people have to deal with in their life," he shared along with the track at the time.

Lyles recently spoke about the year-long postponement due to COVID, telling USA Today that it was the hardest season to prep for. "I think to signify the importance of today, you have to go through the hardships of the year. Really, going through the hard parts is what makes this moment so great," he said after qualifying at trials.

Joining Lyles for the men's 100m event in Tokyo are Kenny Bednarek and 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton.

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.

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