No athlete has dominated the sprint since Usain Bolt retired. However, expectations are building around US teenage sprint sensation Erriyon Knighton. All eyes will be on Knighton when he shows up at the IAAF World Championships in Oregon.
On May 1, the 18-year-old became the fourth fastest man in the 200m when he ran 19.49 seconds at the Baton Rouge meet in Los Angeles, beating his previous best of 19.84 seconds. It was also the fastest 200-meter dash since the 2012 Olympics.
READ: Daniel Stahl, the reserved discus giant from Sweden
The American sprinter surpassed sprinting legends Carl Lewis and Tommy Smith, trailing only Jamaica’s world record holder Bolt (19.19s), another Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26s) and American Michael Johnson (19.32s).
At the US Olympic Trials a year ago, Knighton became the youngest track athlete for the United States and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Despite not making the podium, he finished fourth and stamped his class.
Now he owns the U-20 world record. His two stunning runs in one year as a pre-adult athlete enabled him to break Bolt’s junior world record – 19.93 seconds – set in the 2004 Jamaica U-20 national team heats.
By the way, sprinting was never Knighton’s first love. He should enroll in medical school. The talent would have been wasted had not his coach at Hillsborough High School used him as a wide receiver in inter-college (American) football. Playing the attacking position proved to be a turning point for Knighton as it helped him realize his potential as a sprinter.
In 2019, at the age of 16, he took up sprinting seriously, and a few years later he became the youngest American to make the Olympic track and field team since Jim Ryun in 1964. Making a name for himself as a junior athlete, Adidas soon signed him to pave the way for his professional debut.
READ: McLaughlin breaks own women’s world record in 400m hurdles
The American is a fast learner and has improved his timing in four years from 21.15 seconds in 2019 to 19.49 seconds in 2022, which is the fastest 200m timing of the season.
There is already buzz surrounding Knighton and his match with compatriot Noah Lyles in the 200m. Lyles clocked the second-best timing of the season of 19.61 and won this year’s USATF Championships.
If Knighton wins, he will become the youngest athlete to ever win a sprint event at the IAAF World Championships.