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Who is Erriyon Knighton? Florida teen, 18, could be next to beat Usain Bolt's 200m world record

The 18-year-old from Florida currently owns both the under-18 and under-20 world 200m records
UPDATED JUN 24, 2022
Erriyon Knighton became the fourth-fastest 200-meter runner in history at the LSU Invitational and is eyeing to beat Usain Bolt's senior record (Patrick Smith and Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Erriyon Knighton became the fourth-fastest 200-meter runner in history at the LSU Invitational and is eyeing to beat Usain Bolt's senior record (Patrick Smith and Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Erriyon Knighton, the 18-year-old from Florida is unexceptionally fast and owns both the under-18 and under-20 world 200m records. Just a few months before turning 18, Knighton became the fourth-fastest 200-meter runner in history on April 30. He joins the ranks of the list of fastest-ever 200m runners that includes Jamaica’s eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, whose record is of 19.19 seconds at the Berlin World Championships in August 2009. Second, is Yohan Blake - a two-time Olympic relay gold medallist, hitting 19.26 in a Brussels Diamond League meet in September 2011. The third man on the list is USA’s Michael Johnson who holds a record of 19.32 seconds.

The number 4 on the list has no Olympic titles yet but he had been to Tokyo Olympics last year where he finished fourth in the 200m aged at the age of 17. Just less than a year, the sprinter has stunned the world by hitting a record of 19.49 seconds and adding his name to the list of the world's fastest legends. The young sprinter started his journey on the track in 2019 during his freshman year at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, at the age of 15 upon his coach's recommendation. Back then, he was fully focused on American football, playing wide receiver for his high school team. Now, the sprinter is getting ready to make a debut at the World Athletics Championships that will be held in July 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.


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Who is Erriyon Knighton?

At age 16, Knighton clocked 20.33 in the Junior Olympics - setting the second-fastest time by an under 18-year-old, behind Bolt only. In June 2021, aged 17, he made the USA Olympic team, becoming the youngest male American to achieve the feat in 57 years. And by the end of the Olympics, he had not only managed to claim fourth in the 200m but also beaten Bolt’s under-18 world record on multiple occasions. At age 17, Bolt’s best time was 19.93, 0.09 seconds slower than Knighton’s best at the age. It took Bolt until age 20 to achieve a lower mark - this time of 19.75. This is considering the fact that Knighton may have once taken a different route. The wide receiver at Tampa Hillsborough High School was actually keen to pursue his sporting interests in the NFL and several of the best American colleges with strong football programs had expressed interest in drafting the teen.


And, less than one year, in April 2022, Knighton set an all-time record of 19.49 seconds at the LSU Invitational which is the current under-20 world record, breaking the previous best set by none other than the fastest man on earth- Bolt. Knighton reacted with little emotion to his victory. He knew he had run fast, but he did not yet know that his result was surpassed only by three of the greatest sprinters of all time. Knighton expressed surprise, saying he did not think he would achieve such a time until he was 20 or 21. When his coach, Mike Holloway, told him he had run 19.49, he responded, “No I didn’t.” Knighton had not been able to see the scoreboard at the Louisiana State to know of his feat.

Erriyon Knighton competes in the Men's 200m Semi-Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

At age 18, Knighton has posted his times at a far younger age than any of his rivals. Between ages 17 and 18, Knighton has lowered his own 200m time by a full 0.35 seconds. Bolt’s current world record time of 19.19 was set in 2009 when he was 22 years old. After improving the junior world records several times, Knighton is now eyeing another of Bolt’s world bests - the 19.19 he ran at the 2009 world championships in Berlin. "I want the world record. But if it doesn’t come, I won’t be really bothered about it. I’ve still got 10 years left," Knighton told NBC Sports.