Tokyo 2020: Sprint star Noah Lyles wants to be example to anyone struggling with mental health

Noah Lyles, mental health issues, Tokyo, Team USA, Tokyo Olympics, Olympics 2021

Noah Lyles of Team United States celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the Men’s 200m Final on day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Getty Images)

Sprint star Noah Lyles says that he wants to be an example to anyone struggling to cope with mental health issues.

The Team USA athlete, who won bronze in the 200m final in Tokyo, broke down in tears after the event as he described a difficult year that saw him go on and off anti-depressants.

The Floridian publicly announced on social media in 2020 that he had started to take the medication, but came off them ahead of the delayed games.

Lyles, 24, spoke openly about his mental health to reporters after the race at the Olympic stadium and became the latest star, after Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, to address the issue.

“Somebody asked me why I told people on Twitter that I was on antidepressants. It was strictly for the idea that I had taken something and it made me feel better,” Lyles said.

“I knew there were a lot of people out there like me who were too scared to say something or even start that journey.”

And he added: “I wanted them to know if you guys see me in a big light, I want you to know that it’s OK not to feel good and you can go out and talk to somebody. … This is a serious issue. You don’t want to wake up one day and think, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’”

Lyles also shed tears for his sprinter brother, Josephus, who failed to make it to Tokyo with him on Team USA.

“Sometimes I think to myself, ‘This should be him,’” admitted Lyles.

“I’d be okay not being here. I feel like I have a lot of talents, and I feel I can go in different directions. He’s talented in his own right. But at the same time, it wasn’t even my dream. I just tagged along because I love my brother.”

Lyles says his ability on the track has helped him deal with his own bouts of depression.

“When I was able to do track, I felt that everything had been lifted and I would actually be able to live my life,” said Lyles, who is also a talented artist, photographer and musician.

“I’m using outlets of music and track and everything else to help me get through those tough moments and saying if this doesn’t go right in track, I have a life outside of it.

“I’m not defined by being an Olympic bronze medalist or gold-medal world champion or the high schooler that went pro. That’s not who I am. I’m Noah Lyles.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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