The story of the Liberty track star who sprinted his way into university record books
Reaching a professional league is one of the highest goals an athlete can achieve. In football, it’s the NFL. In baseball, the MLB. In track and field, it’s the Olympic games – and Liberty redshirt junior Christian Lyon has his sights set on that goal.
Track and field is one of the oldest sports in the world, originating in ancient Greece with the first Olympic games. As the Olympics have continued, track and field has remained one of the most-watched events.
Christian Lyon watched the Olympics before coming to Liberty, and when he received a phone call from Liberty Associate Head Track and Field Coach Andrew “Pete” McFadden, he set his hopes on competing in them one day.
“I remember watching the Olympics (trials) in 2016, and Christian Coleman was in the finals,” Lyon said. “Coach Pete called me and asked what I thought about being the next Christian at the Olympics, and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Shortly after the phone call Lyon received, he signed the National Letter of Intent and committed to running for Liberty.
McFadden works primarily with sprinters on the team and has seen Lyon’s work ethic firsthand since he arrived at Liberty.
“He comes to me and he wants to set goals, and I give him goals that I feel are super outrageous and he brings me goals that are even harder to hit,” McFadden said.
McFadden emphasized that achieving success on the track requires more than just speed.
“I am all about the mindset – I have them (the runners) visualize themselves winning and racing,” McFadden said. “I think everybody does a lot of training to make themselves stronger and faster, but I think the stuff we do outside the track makes the difference and makes them successful.”
Lyon has shown McFadden that he is fully committed to the sport and will do whatever it takes to be the best he can be. For Lyon, that excellence takes a full commitment in every aspect of his life.
“What stands out about Christian is his passion,” McFadden said. “Few athletes come in and match his passion and dedication. … He shows me on his phone and his watch how much sleep he is getting and always tells me what he’s eating.”
The hard work has paid off for Lyon, with a successful high school career leading him to an even more successful junior college career at Barton Community College before he came to Liberty. Now he has his eyes set on nationals.
Lyon recently broke Liberty’s record for the men’s 200-meter with a time of 21.03.
“It was really cool to do that because everything had begun to fall into place,” Lyon said. “I am looking forward to running super fast this weekend so I can qualify for nationals.”
And that is exactly what he did. Lyon held true to his word and ran the 200-meter in 20.99 seconds at the ASUN Track and Field Championships.
“We train for a season, not a meet, so when he came here and did really well it was shocking because we did not expect him to run it that fast,” McFadden said. “He keeps improving and getting faster. It is good to see that the training is working.”
With all of Lyon’s achievements, his favorite moment was when he went to Brazil to compete in the first ever FISU America Games in Brazil in 2018. He took home the gold in the 100-meter race.
For Lyon it was not the travel, the race or even taking home the gold that made his trip memorable.
“Just going over there and seeing the young kids, speaking with them and playing with them, that was the best experience I have ever been a part of,” Lyon said. “Kids look up to college athletes … to have a little kid look up to me like that changed my life forever.”
Dean is a sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter.