Any athlete hopes that the records made on the track remain unbroken for some time. Unless, of course, you’re Eliud Kipchoge, a man whose kindness knows no bounds and who will push himself to the limit just to inspire others to do the same, knowing anything is possible. But for Usain Bolt, the Jamaican came to dominate the athletics track in the 100m and 200m. His was the name that practically defined the event, whose event was all we could focus on at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics. With his tall frame and iconic celebrations (often conducted far too early in the race), he left a legacy that will never be surpassed.
But as one Florida teen is proving, Bolt’s records might not be safe for much longer. 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton recently toppled Bolt’s junior 200m record at an under 18 American Track League meet on Monday. Knighton ran down the 100m Olympic favourite, Trayvon Bromell, to win the 200m in a time of 20.11, shaving 0.02 seconds off Bolt’s 2003 time.
Knighton, who turned professional while a junior at Tampa Hillsborough High School, stunned with his performance and while it would be unfair to place such pressure and expectation on an athlete still in development, the feat is one that certainly has piqued the interest of athletics fans and coaches around the world. Now, the 17-year-old will head to the US Olympic trials which start in just two weeks at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. It makes Knighton the youngest Olympic male track and field athlete since Jim Ryun competed in the mile in 1964, according to reports from olympedia.org.
While it will be a tough race for Knighton, given that he’ll be coming up against the likes of sprinters who have each run 19.81 or faster, his career looks to be a promising one. After all, he hasn’t even been sprinting for that long. As his high school newspaper reports, he only took up sprinting in his freshman year of high school when his football coach asked him to join the track team. As a wide receiver, he reportedly turned down offers to play for college football teams like Alabama, Florida and Florida State. Given that he’s already breaking Bolt’s old junior records, it seems Knighton made the right decision and looks certain to have an illustrious athletic career ahead of him.