Erriyon Knighton isn’t sufficiently old to toast his victories with champagne — or the rest. He can’t get a tattoo with out a mother or father’s approval or vote and even battle for his nation. However on the Tokyo Olympics he’ll run for it — and possibly even win for it.
The phenom from Florida launched himself to trace followers when he broke Usain Bolt’s under-18 and under-20 world information within the 200 meters. The 17-year-old will introduce himself to the remainder of the world when he runs in Monday night time’s heats in Tokyo, turning into the youngest monitor star for Crew USA since 1964.
“I imply, I did good. I’m on a staff at 17, so I can’t complain,” Knighton mentioned after the U.S. Olympic trials. “It hasn’t sunk in. It’ll in all probability sink in [later]. However as of proper now, I’m simply blissful. I really feel prefer it’s an actual large accomplishment.”
Make that an Olympic-sized one. In all probability, there will likely be many extra.
After working a 20.11 earlier this season to interrupt the under-18 mark set by Bolt in 2003, Knighton turned in a blistering 19.88 within the Olympic trials semifinals to shatter the under-20 world file owned by arguably monitor’s largest star ever.
Knighton’s 19.84 encore within the closing — during which he stormed again from fifth place (at finest) coming off the flip to complete third — lowered his personal U-20 file, and left him with the fourth-fastest time on the earth this 12 months. And it stamped him as the way forward for sprinting — probably the not-too-distant future, relying on the following week.
Solely two of the three males who’ve run sooner that Knighton this season are in Tokyo, so he’s in prime place to earn an Olympic medal.
“It hasn’t hit actuality but. I really feel like after I get there it’ll sink in. Once I notice when I’m there hopefully I’ll do good,” Knighton advised ABC Information, earlier than amending that.
“I’m going to do good.”
Comply with all of the 2020 Olympics motion
There’s no motive to doubt it. He had by no means run a monitor meet till 2 ½ years in the past, and can line up towards the world’s finest Monday regardless of not but having began his senior 12 months of highschool.
Naturally there have been inevitable comparisons to Carl Lewis, a phenom in his schoolboy days at Willingboro (N.J.) Excessive. And whereas the Bolt comparisons are unfair, Knighton doesn’t shrink back from them. When requested final 12 months if he’d liken his working type to anyone, he in contrast it to the triple world record-holder.
“Most likely Usain Bolt,” Knighton advised Florida At present, “simply because he’s tall like me.”
And increasingly more, he’s working like Bolt.
Like Bolt, Lewis and different tall sprinters, the 6-foot-3 Knighton doesn’t all the time lead out of the blocks. However in contrast to so many tall sprinters with out a low heart of gravity, he excels on the flip. And when he unfurls his stride, he’s virtually not possible to carry off.
Fred Kerley (who took silver within the 100 Sunday) and veteran Isiah Younger (a 2012 Olympian) each discovered that out when Knighton overtook them within the Olympic trials 200 meters closing for the third and final spot. And Noah Lyles realized it when he received caught from behind within the semifinals, and needed to work to carry on and win the ultimate.
“[Lyles] gave me quite a lot of recommendation,” mentioned Knighton, simply 0.10 seconds behind Lyles for the world lead. “He truly advised me that I achieved the dream that he was had make the staff in highschool.”
Rising up Florida, it’s not surprising that Knighton was a soccer standout at Hillsborough Excessive College in Tampa. Rated a four-star prospect by 247 Sports activities, he received presents from powerhouses akin to Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee due to final 12 months’s development spurt and that blinding velocity.
However incomes his breakthrough Olympic season is proof he made the appropriate name.
Since turning skilled in January — shortly after his seventeenth birthday — Knighton has piled up wins and earned $200,000. That features signing with Adidas that very same month and being featured of their “Unimaginable Is Nothing” marketing campaign in April.
“I do know my potential,” Knighton wrote on Instagram. “I see the greatness in me everytime I see my reflection.”
The remainder of the world might even see that greatness over the following week.