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Erriyon Knighton finishes third in 200 to qualify for the Olympics

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Erriyon Knighton already made headlines with his performance in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials. 

The Hillsborough senior broke Noah Lyles’ national high school record in the event by finishing first in his preliminary heat in 22.04 seconds. Knighton topped that by going 19.88 in the semifinals to not only win again but also set the under-20 world record previously held by Usain Bolt. 

In Sunday’s final, the 17-year-old continued to lower his time, finishing in 19.84 seconds. It was good enough for third place — and that was all that mattered. 

By doing so, Knighton made the U.S.Olympic Team, becoming the first American teenager since 1972 to qualify in the event.

Knighton will be joining Trayvon Bromell, the former Gibbs standout who won the 100 meters last week at the trials. ,

Track and Field

Erriyon Knighton sets national high school 200 record at trials

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Of all the numbers Erriyon Knighton has compiled this year — and what an assortment there is — from beating Usain Bolt’s under-18 world record in the 200 meters with a time of 20.11 seconds to becoming just the third American teenager to break 10 seconds in the 100, the number that sticks out most is his age.

He is 17 years old. 

Knighton just completed his junior year at Hillsborough. He did not run track at his school this year, opting to forgo his high school and college eligibility by signing with Adidas in January. 

That move was to better prepare for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 200. 

On Friday, Knighton began his quest by competing in the preliminaries of the 200, his signature event, at the trials. 

It was only natural to think of Knighton’s chances more in terms of the future than the present.

After all, he was competing against a stellar field in his heat that included Noah Lyles, a former youth Olympic champion in the event, and Fred Kerley, who already qualified for the Summer Games in Tokyo in the 100..

Because of that, Knighton seemed destined to win championships later rather than sooner.

There were older, more experienced runners who have been waiting for their turn at the top, and Knighton has not served the lengthy apprenticeship that seems mandatory before winning these kinds of titles.

But for Knighton, the future is now. 

He showed that by blazing past an impressive field and into the record books — again. 

Knighton won his 200 heat in 20.04 seconds to set the national high school record in the event, surpassing the previous time of 20.09 set by Lyles at the 2016 Olympic Trials. 

Better still, Knighton did it while running into a headwind. 

These were just the prelims. Knighton still has to get through the semifinals and finals to secure his spot on the team. 

But after Friday’s performance, he might be considered the overall favorite. 

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Track and Field

Trayvon Bromell wins the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials

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For the past year, Trayvon Bromell’s world was in focus. The starting blocks. The finish line. The space between. 

The former Gibbs standout blocked out the frustration of mounting injuries that sidelined him for most of the past three years, the pain of losing his track mentor and biggest supporter and the struggles from his first — and only — appearance in the Summer Olympics in 2016. 

This was a redemption tour for Bromell, once hailed as the nation’s up-and-coming star in the 100 meters. Stronger, determined and injury-free, Bromell (featured photo above courtesy of Jay Stone) spent the past year training — and competing — with an eye on the Olympic Trials and a return to the world’s biggest track and field stage in Tokyo. 

He entered the trials undefeated this year in the 100 and was the overwhelming favorite to win after posting the world’s fastest time (9.77 seconds) this season three weeks ago in his signature event. 

Still, Bromell took nothing for granted. He declined nearly all interviews in the weeks leading up to the trials. 

“I just want to keep my head clear,” Bromell said. 

That single-minded pursuit paid dividends on Sunday. 

Crouched in a four-point stance, Bromell surged to the lead and stayed there, finishing first in the final in 9.80 seconds.

“God is real,” Bromell said afterward, citing his deep faith that has helped him overcome setbacks and get to the pinnacle of his sport.

Five years ago, Bromell was a star in the 100- and 200-meters. He had already signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. He was an indoor champion and medaled in the 100 at the World Championships. 

Then came the injuries. 

First was a bone spur in his Achilles, an injury that severely impacted Bromell’s performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. He finished last in the 100 and ended up in a wheelchair after gutting out a leg in the 4×100 relay. 

Since that setback, Bromell has only raced a handful of times. 

He twice had surgery on his Achilles, the last in 2018. After running in a few events last year, Bromell is training with a better understanding of how to come back from his injury. One of training partners has been Marvin Bracy, who played football at FSU and was a star sprinter with the Seminoles. 

“We’ve been training,” Bromell said last year. “We’re getting ready for this season.”

The pain Bromell has endured was not all related to injuries. Last year, he dealt with the death of Garlynn Boyd, the Lightning Boyd Track club coach who was instrumental in his development at an early age. 

“Lord knows this one hurts…not being able to hear your voice,” Bromell said about Boyd on his Twitter page last year. “No matter the circumstance, you knew how to bring out the best out of me. Even though you’re gone, you live on forever in me. I promise to keep running.”

That is exactly what Bromell did. He kept running — and winning. 

But to get back to the Olympics, Bromell had to get through the preliminaries, the semifinals and final of the 100. He won his heats with ease in the prelims and the semifinals, cruising to the finish line with energy to spare. 

That set up his moment in the final. 

Bromell won that, too. 

And now he is back in the Olympics. Better still, he is the favorite to become the first American since 2004 to win Olympic gold in the 100.

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Track and Field

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

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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.” 

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