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Athletics

At 17, Erriyon Knighton becomes the first highschooler to make USA 200m team

Erriyon Knighton also recently broke Usain Bolt's Junior record and has made the 200m US team along with Noah Lyles, who seems to be peaking at the right time

Erriyon Knighton 200 m run athletics track usain bolt lyles florida teen 17 tokyo olympics
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Erriyon Knighton (Source: NBC Sports)

By

Eshaan Joshi

Updated: 2021-06-30T13:09:40+05:30

The 200 m Olympic trial finals in Eugene, Oregon was a blistering event, as it saw four athletes finish under 20 seconds. However, all eyes were on Erriyon Knighton, a 17-year old high school student from Florida who finished third, with a time of 19.84 seconds, outshining the under -20 world record of none other than the legend Usain Bolt himself; who clocked a time of 19.93 seconds for the age group.


It was a day to be etched in the books of history for Knighton, as he not only bettered Bolt's timing to secure a berth in the 200 m USA team for Tokyo Olympics 2020, but also became the youngest Track & Field athlete to represent the USA at the Games since Jim Ryun 1964 Olympics, which, coincidentally were also held in Tokyo.

It is not the first time that Knighton has set a ripple in the record books. The young gun rose to prominence in June, emerging out of nowhere to clinch the 200 m title at the American Track League Meet, beating Bolt's under-18 record of 20.13 seconds.


Knighton's exploits are well and truly astonishing, but what makes them even worthy is the fact that he has made a switch to Athletics only three years ago. Having been a four-star football recruit previously, it was on the insistence of his high school coaches that the Florida teen turned to athletics. A highly sought-after recruit, Knighton made the decision to go pro at the start of his third running season in 2021, as he signed a contract with Adidas and recruited well-respected agents Ramon Clay and John Regis as his representatives.

While the entire world is wonderstruck at the magnitude of his achievements, the 17-year old himself has not come to terms with what he has attained. "It will probably sink in when I return home", said the teenage athlete in an interview with Florida Today.

In the build-up to the final run, Knighton also got the better of reigning world champion and ultimate winner Noah Lyles in the preliminary and semi-final heats. Lyles, who won the finals with a timing of 19.74, seems to have peaked at the right time, having had some underwhelming runs in the recent past.

As the two proceed to team up for the quadrennial event, Team USA could well go on to clinch the ultimate glory at Tokyo.

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