Erriyon Knighton breaks Usain Bolt’s U18 world record in 200

For the past year, Erriyon Knighton has established himself as the premier high school sprinter in the nation after continuously producing jaw-dropping times. 

Now, the former Hillsborough High standout is on the fast track to the Olympics, especially after his performance this past weekend.

On Monday, Knighton won the 200-meter race in 20.11 seconds at the Duval County Challenge in Jacksonville. His time set a new world under-18 record, surpassing the previous time of 20.13 set by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt in 2003. 

Breaking a record that stood for 18 years by the world’s greatest sprinter was the headline-producing moment Knighton was seeking since forgoing his high school and college eligibility by signing with Adidas in January. 

Even more impressive was that Knighton ran down former Gibbs standout and Olympian Trayvon Bromell in the homestretch to win Monday’s race. 

In May, Knighton also made for himself in the 100 by becoming just the third American teenager to break 10 seconds in the event, a select group that includes Bromell. 

At the Junior Olympics last summer, Knighton won the 200 meters in a wind-legal time of 20.33 seconds, the fastest-ever recorded in the 16 year old’s age group (15-16) at the Junior Olympics and the nation’s top time by a high school athlete at that point last year. 

Knighton shaved 56 seconds off his personal best set in June of 2020. And his blistering 20.33 time was just 0.20 seconds off the under-18 world record set by Usain Bolt. 

That was not all. 

In the 100 meters, Knighton again sprinted to the head of the class at the Junior Olympics, this time winning in 10.29 seconds, a time that was tied for the nation’s top mark by a high school athlete this past year.

Those eye-opening times got the attention of the track-and-field aficionados — and the sporting world.

It also put him on the fast track to potential Olympic stardom. That was in part why he made the decision to turn pro, according to Track and Field News

By doing so, Knighton all but gave up a promising career in football. 

Knighton’s big-play ability, combined with his speed, made him a bona fide football prospect. He is already ranked as a four-star recruit and considered the state’s 15-best player for the Class of 2022 on 247 Sports’ composite list.

As a junior this past season, Knighton had 201 rushing yards, 484 receiving and accounted for eight touchdowns.  

Colleges took notice. Knighton has offers from several Division I-A programs, including Florida, FSU, Michigan and Tennessee. 

Knighton’s future is coming into focus.

So is his vision. 

Last summer, Knighton failed a physical because of poor eyesight. He had 20/100 vision in one eye and 20/80 in the other. He now has glasses and plans on getting contacts. 

“It didn’t really bother me in track,” Knighton told Prime Time Preps at the time. “I could still see. The only thing that was blurry was when I tried to read plays from the sideline in football.”

The picture is clear. No more football and track at Hillsborough, followed by four more years of both sports in college. 

The focus is now on the Olympics, something that Knighton said was a possibility this summer. 

“I might lean towards track, slightly,” Knighton told Prime Time Preps last summer.. “I’m thinking about the Olympics more and more.”