Erriyon Knighton Becomes the Youngest American Sprinter to Qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2021 in Over 50 Years After Breaking Usain Bolt’s Record

Published 06/29/2021, 7:04 AM EDT


Erriyon Knighton has had a stellar week at the US Olympics track and field trials. He announced himself in the semifinals after he broke Usain Bolt’s long-standing under-20 200m record.

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With the record-breaking run, Knighton earned his ticket to Tokyo Olympics 2021, thus becoming the youngest American sprinter in recent history to qualify for the Olympics.

Kenny Bednarek, Noah Lyles, and Erriyon Knighton pose on the podium after the Men’s 200 Meter Final during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

At the age of 17, Erriyon Knighton is the youngest American male sprinter to qualify for a track and field event since 1964. Hence he will be representing the USA at the Olympics even before his World Championships debut.

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“It’s only my third season running track. I’ve been extremely successful in both training and competition. I believe if I work hard, I will eventually develop to be a world-class athlete. I’m soaking it all up, all the knowledge,” Knighton said.

Erriyon Knighton and Noah Lyles react after competing in the Men’s 200 Meter Final. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Erriyon Knighton broke Usain Bolt’s Under 18 and Under 20 world record ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021

In the semifinals of the 200m trials, Knighton finished at the top with a U20 record time of 19.88. He also finished ahead of World Champion, Noah Lyles who came just behind Kenny Bednarek in third with a timing of 19.91.

And then in the finals, Erriyon Knighton came in third behind Bednarek and Lyles. Although he lost his top spot from the semifinal, he bettered his timings by 0.04 seconds to improve his record.

In a matter of 4 months, Knighton has gone on to break two of Usain Bolt’s untouchable records. First, he broke the under-18 record in March. And since Knighton is still under the age of 18, he broke his own U18 record alongside the U20 record.

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“It hasn’t sunk in. It’ll probably sink in when I get home. … I feel it’s a real big accomplishment,” Knighton said after his record-breaking performance which guaranteed an Olympic berth.

Knighton’s time to qualify for the Olympics is already in the Top-8 fastest times among the Tokyo Olympics 2021 qualifiers. Racing alongside a champion like Lyles, Knighton could soon find an extra gear to break a few more records that the great Usain Bolt has set.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1226 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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