What is your proudest accomplishment at 17 years old?
Team USA's Erriyon Knighton has found himself among Tokyo's breakout stars at this year's Olympic Games. He finished fourth, with a time of 19.93, in the 200-meter finals. He finished behind Andre De Grasse (Canada), Kenneth Bednarek (USA) and Noah Lyles (USA).
During the U.S. Olympic trials in June, Knighton set the world records for the under-18 and under-20 200m with a time of 19.84 seconds. Now that he's secured Olympic gold, let's examine the most unique feats that have shaped his impressive career thus far.
Breaking through in a big way
Last summer, Knighton made quite an impression with his record-breaking performance at the AAU Junior Olympic 200m. His time of 20.33 seconds ranked him second all-time among sprinters under the age of 18.
Entering that contest, the national record for 15-16 boys was 20.62 seconds, set in 2016 by Tyrese Cooper of Miami Gardens.
"The 200 is my (main) race; I'm a 200 guy," Knighton explained after his victory.
Erriyon Knighton ran a wind legal U.S. No. 1 in 20.33 AND set a new 200m national record. Did we mention this is the 15-16-year-old age group?😱🤯 He's unbelievable! https://t.co/S1hmkVn34K pic.twitter.com/7BSI2IFKWw— FloTrack (@FloTrack) August 7, 2020
Joining the big leagues
Upon signing with Adidas, Knighton drew comparisons to Usain Bolt at a similar age. The latter ran a 20.13 in the 200m at the age of 16.
Knighton recognized the risks of turning pro and bypassing D-I football scholarship offers, but the Olympics were also less than 200 days away at the time of his announcement. He left Hillsborough High with two remaining years of eligibility in amateur competition.
When asked about his prospects for the Summer Games, he responded, "I believe if I train hard enough, I can make it."
What could've been...
At 6-feet, 160 pounds, Knighton showed promise as a wide receiver prospect during high school.
Who were the college football programs he considered joining?
According to 247 Sports, Knighton received offers from Florida, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa State, Tennessee and Toledo. Around this time last year, only Florida State had offered Knighton a track scholarship, but a failed physical due to poor eyesight clarified his next steps.
"It didn't really bother me in track," Knighton said about his vision. "I could still see. The only thing that was blurry was when I tried to read plays from the sideline in football."
Finding his stride
This past May, Knighton continued growing his name with a victory at the preliminaries of the Pure Athletics Sprint Elite Meet in Clermont, Florida.
His time of 9.99 seconds marked the third instance of an American high school athlete breaking 10 seconds, joining Matthew Boling (9.98 in 2019) and Trayvon Bromell (9.99 in 2013).
It's been a long time ...
At only 17 years of age, Knighton entered these Summer Games as the United States' youngest male track athlete in the Olympics since Jim Ryun 1964, capping an impressive trajectory for someone with barely three years of experience.
His appearance in the 200m final made him the youngest male American to achieve the feat since 1984.