Whenever you beat a record by the greatest sprinter of all time people will take notice. American teenager Erriyon Knighton dominated the field at the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge last weekend taking the 200 meters title in 19.49 seconds. It is the fourth-fastest time in 200 meters history and bests sprint legend Usain Bolt’s junior record of 19.93.
Remember the name: Erriyon Knighton‼️
18-year-old clocked @ErriyonK 19.49 seconds to break his own U20 record in the 200m and became the fourth-fastest man in HISTORY.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) May 2, 2022
This is actually the second time Knighton has gone sub-19.93. Last season he set the new world junior mark at 19.84, so the new record is beating his own world junior record.
Bolt didn’t break 19.5 until he turned 21. That means Knighton has a three-year jump on the eight-time Olympic gold medalist.
Of course, once you touch the rarefied air of sub 19.5, shaving off tenths of a second becomes increasingly difficult. Knighton will have to run a perfect race to topple Bolt’s world record of 19.19.
Still, Knighton has run the fastest time in the 200 meters in the world in the past 10 years. At 18 he’s also likely still growing and can add more power and stamina over the next few years.
Knighton’s next big meet will be the world outdoor championships in Eugene, Oregon, (July 15-24) assuming he advances though the qualifiers.
Bolt might be the greatest Olympian of all time. There are many other athletes with more medals, but if you look closely those are all sports with multiple disciplines and medal opportunities. Not to mention the field of competition isn’t as large.
To dominate the 100 and 200 meter sprint events for three Olympic cycles is mind-boggling. From 2008-2016 Bolt never lost a major race (Olympics and World Championships) in either distance where he had a legal start and finish.
He is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100 meters and 200 meters titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012, and 2016).
Bolt is also an 11-time World Champion. He won consecutive World Championship titles in the 100 meter, 200 meter and 4×100 meter relay events from 2009 to 2015, with the exception of a 100 meter false start in 2011.
He is the most successful male athlete of the World Championships. He is the first athlete to win four World Championship titles in the 200 meters and is tied with Maurice Greene and Carl Lewis for the most 100 meters World Championship titles.
Bolt is still the world record holder in the 100 meters as well with a blistering time of 9.58. He set both records at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
Knighton’s rise in the world of track & field has been quick. He only started running seriously as a freshman in high school and he’s seen incredible success in just three years.
At 6 feet 3 and 170 pounds he might emulate the physique of the 6-foot-5, 207-pound Jamaican sprint champion in Bolt. Like Bolt, his technique will have to be extremely fluid at that size, particularly in the 100 meters.
The race is so short it takes taller sprinters a little bit of time to get out of the blocks and into their top speed. This is where the dedication to being the best in the world will be tested. It will take countless hours of repetition and focus.
But Knighton is well on his way and this summer in Oregon will be his next big opportunity.