A Tampa high schooler is heading to Tokyo after making history to become the youngest tra*k-and-field athlete to join Team USA since 1964. Erriyon Knighton, a 17-year-old at Hillsborough High School, came in third place overnight in the men’s 200-meter trials with a time of 19.84, earning a spot on the team ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
He finished behind Noah Lyles – who won in 19.74 seconds, the best time in the world this season – and Kenny Bednarek. The trio were the final Americans to earn spots in the Olympics across 28 sports. Knighton is the youngest male tra*k Olympian since Jim Ryun in 1964.
The race didn’t actually start until shortly after midnight. Temperatures at Hayward Field in Oregon reached 108 degrees and the surface of the tra*k exceeded 150. It forced USA Track and Field to put a halt to the action Sunday afternoon.
A few weeks ago, Knighton b*oke Usain Bolt’s 200-meter record for athletes under 18 – the fastest qualifier heading into the final. “I knew I was going to run fast, but I wasn’t sure that I was going to break the record because it wasn’t something that was on my mind,” Knighton told FOX 13. “I’m not going to say I knew I was going to win, but I knew that I was going to do something better in the 200. I knew I was about to set a new personal record.”
At Hillsborough High School, this is just Knighton’s third year in tra*k. He initially got into the sport to help with his speed in football. However, along the way, it became more clear: Knighton was a track star in the making.
“During my sophomore year of high school, I was running times that college people are running in their senior year,” Knighton recalled. “I was like ‘I can do something bigger than just football.’