Most 17-year-olds are still deciding what they want out of life. Erriyon Knighton, on the other hand, sees nothing but a clear path to the finish line. Not only has the young Floridian secured his spot on the US Olympic Team, making him the youngest American man to compete in Track & Field at the Olympics since Jim Ryun (1964) – but also broken the under-18 record established by legendary sprinter Usain Bolt circa 2004 in the process.
Bolt’s longstanding under-18 record for the 200 metre sprint was 20.13 seconds. Knighton clocked in an impressive 19.84 seconds during the preliminaries, before showing the world it wasn’t a fluke with an equally-impressive 19.88 during the semi-finals, eventually rounding out the 2021 Tokyo Olympics qualifying event by finishing in 3rd place with 20.04 seconds. And just to make the affair event more baller, Knighton left the track without even offering a post-run interview.
“It was a missed opportunity but he’ll have plenty of others,” says world champion Noah Lyles, of whom Knighton beat in the prelims and semi-finals; Lyles only managed to place 1st during the finals.
But Knighton will still have to push a little further before he beats Bolt’s current all-time record of 19.19 seconds for the 200 metre stretch. 0.65 seconds to be exact. And given how the former isn’t even eligible to vote in his home state yet while the latter only made his entry in this particular chapter of history aged 20 years and 10 months… it’s safe to say, the lad has a bright future ahead. Who knows what he’ll accomplish in 2021 or indeed in 2024?
“It’s only my third season running track,” Knighton told Track & Field News earlier this year.
“I’ve been extremely successful in both training and competition. I believe if I work hard, I will eventually develop to be a world-class athlete. I’m soaking it all up, all the knowledge.”
Erriyon Knighton will join US Olympic Track & Field teammates Kenny Bednarek (19.84 seconds) as well as world champion Noah Lyles (19.74 seconds) later this year in Tokyo.