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Who is Erriyon Knighton, the US sprinter that has broken Usain Bolt's 200m U18 record?

Having turned 17 in January, Knighton specializes in 100m and 200m events and only began participating in track and field in 2019 on the advice of his football coaches.

Erriyon Knighton.

June 1, 2021 will always be remembered as the day that 17-year-old American sprinter Erriyon Knighton made history by beating Usain Bolt's long-standing under-18 record over 200m.

Knighton beat Bolt's time by 0.02 seconds

Knighton clocked a time of 20.11 at the Duval County Challenge Track League in Jacksonville, Florida, which was two hundredths of a second faster than the previous record set by Jamaican star Bolt in 2003, who was 16 years old at the time. What made the Florida teenager’s feat even more impressive is the fact that his run was not wind-assisted.

Knighton now has the seventh-fastest overall time for the 200m held by an American sprinter, which has qualified him for the Olympic trials later this month. He will face serious competition at those trials but if he were to be selected, he would become the youngest male track and field athlete to make the US Olympic team since the 1964 Games in Tokyo, which, of course, is where this summer’s Games will also take place. 

Who is Erriyon Knighton?

Born on 29 January 2004, Knighton specializes in 100m and 200m events and only began participating in track and field in 2019 while he was still a freshman at Hillsborough High School in his native Tampa.

Weighing 170lbs and standing at 6’3”, Knighton also played wide receiver for the Hillsborough football team and it was on the advice of his football coaches that he decided to take up sprinting.

Before setting the U18 200m best on 1 June, he had already clocked the world’s second fastest time over 200m for an under-18 athlete in the final of the 2020 USA Track & Field Junior Olympics in Satellite Beach, Florida, where he came in at 20.33 seconds.

In January 2021, he became a professional athlete after signing a sponsorship deal with Adidas while he was still just 16 years old. “I know I can maximize to the next level,” said Knighton not long after going professional. “I’ve got to see what I can do. I want to win against the top athletes, but I know they’re not going to take it easy on me, so I’m going to have to train real hard.”

Knighton is a member of My Brother's Keeper Track Club based in Riverview, Florida, where he is coached by Jonathan Terry. His agents are former pro sprinters Ramon Clay and John Regis at Stellar Athletics.

“He has a lot of potential. He’s hungry. He has what it takes,” Regis, a 200m silver medalist at the 1993 World Championships, has said of the 17-year-old, who looks set to take the track and field world by storm over the coming years.


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