Erriyon Knighton, a 17-year-old sprinter who turned professional in January, broke Usain Bolt‘s U18 200m record on Monday night.
Knighton clocked 20.11 seconds at an American Track League meet in Jacksonville, Florida, beating Bolt’s record of 20.13 from 2003. Video is here.
Athletes can register U18 records through the calendar year that they turn 17. Knighton turned 17 in January, just after he turned pro while a junior at Tampa Hillsborough High School.
Bolt still owns the fastest 200m for a 17-year-old, clocking 19.93 in April 2004, four months before he turned 18. Knighton draws at least one obvious comparison to Bolt — in height. He has been listed as 6 feet, 3 inches, by mutliple publications.
On Monday, Knighton beat a field that included Olympic 100m favorite Trayvon Bromell (second in 20.20), Brit Zharnel Hughes (who seven years ago broke Jamaican High School sprint records) and another Brit, Adam Gemili (fourth at the 2016 Olympics and 2019 Worlds).
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 Ryun in 1964, according to Olympedia.org.
Knighton now ranks 13th among Americans in the 200m since the start of 2019, and seventh this year.
The top three at Trials are in line to make up the Olympic team. The favorites have separated themselves — Noah Lyles, Kenny Bednarek and Terrance Laird are the world’s three fastest men since the start of 2020. All have run 19.81 or faster.
Knighton also owns a 100m personal best of 10.16 seconds (into a .3 meter/second headwind), just .01 off the U18 record. It will likely take around 10.00 to finish in the top six at Trials for the Olympic 4x100m relay pool.
Knighton reportedly took up sprinting in his freshman year of high school after his football coach asked him to join the track team. As a wide receiver, he received offers to play for Alabama, Florida and Florida State, according to DyeStat.
“Knowing that I grew up around football my whole life, and receiving a lot of D1 offers, it was a tough decision, but it was also a no-brainer,” to choose a pro track career, Knighton said, according to Track and Field News. “In track, the success of my career is fully in my hands, and I know that I can do it.”
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