A Florida teen officially has broken a record set by Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
Erriyon Knighton, who turned professional in January 2021 while still a junior at Tampa Hillsborough High School, broke the 34-year-old’s U18 200m record on Monday, 31, during the American Track League meet in Jacksonville, Florida. The 17-year-old sprinter clocked in at 20.11, beating Bolt’s record of 20.13 from 2003, though Bolt still owns the title for the fastest 200m for a 17-year-old, for his timing of 19.93 in April 2004, months before he turned 18. “Although Bolt ran a 19.93 when he was 17 in 2004, it happened in the year in which he turned 18.
The Washington Post states, “To be eligible for a U18 best, World Athletics requires that an athlete not turn 18 during the calendar year, according to a U.S. Track and Field official. The same applies to U20 records. Bolt turned 18 later in the year in which he ran the 19.93. Knighton turned 17 in January and thus cannot turn 18 this year.”
The comparisons between Knighton and Bolt have already begun to pour in, thanks to the fact that they’re both taller sprinters. Several publications have put the 17-year-old at 6 feet and 3 inches — still, the difference now lies in a broken record.
Not only did Knighton break Bolt’s record, he also beat out Olympic 100M favorite Trayvon Bromell, who placed second with a score of 20.20. Also competing against Knighton were British runners Zharnel Hughes and Adam Gemili, who placed fourth at the 2016 Olympics and 2019 Worlds.
According to a feature piece done on him by his high school newspaper, Hillsborough High School Today, Knighton took up the sport following a suggestion from his high school football coach. The young athlete figured track would serve as a way to improve his football talents and help him to become a quicker wide receiver with the ability to sprint faster than the defense. As a wide receiver, Knighton reportedly received offers to play for college football powers Alabama, Florida and Florida State, but he appeared to stick to the track.
While talking to his school newspaper in February, the teen expressed not much has changed since he gained success as a sprinter. However, he garnered a deal with Adidas, earning him reportedly six figures, most of which goes to his bank account, phone bill and mother.
At the time Knighton got the call, he told the publication that he wasn’t phased by the opportunity when the retail giant expressed their interest in working with him. “I was a little surprised, but not really. But I was, though, but not really,” he said. “I don’t really show emotions toward stuff like that.”
Knighton is qualified to race at the U.S. Olympic Trials that start in two weeks. He is younger than any U.S. Olympic male track and field athlete since miler Jim Ryunin 1964, according to Olympedia.org. He now ranks 13th among Americans in the 200m since the beginning of 2019 and seventh this year.
Be sure to check out the rising star below.
Link to original Atlanta Black Star