After crushing Usain Bolt’s under-18 and under-20 200m records at this weekend’s Track & Field Olympic Team Trials, 17 year old Erriyon Knighton etched his name into athletics history to become the youngest American male to make be a part of the Olympic team since Jim Ryun in 1964.
And as we approach this year’s much-anticipated Tokyo Olympic Games, we take a closer look at the 6’ 3” sprinting prodigy and ask: who is Erriyon Knighton?
Unlike many Olympic hopefuls, athletics is a relatively new sport for Knighton. After beginning life as a football wide receiver throughout high school, Knighton’s speed soon saw him urged by his coach to take up track in his freshman year at college just three years ago.
Despite his sudden rise on the track, Knighton was approached by an array of first division schools to play football, but with a number of wins already under his belt and a growing athletics portfolio, Knighton stuck to the track to mark the start of what’s expected to be an exciting career.
Since turning professional in January 2021 — shortly after his 17th birthday — Knighton has clocked a plethora of wins, tournaments and trophies, which has seen his net worth rise to around $200,000 USD.
That includes sponsorship from adidas, who added the athlete to their roster in January for an undisclosed amount. At the time, Knighton wrote on Instagram “I know my potential, I see the greatness in me everytime I see my reflection.” He was also a part of the brands ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ campaign, which launched in April.
Knighton is marked, too, by an impressive self-belief for such a young athlete. In an interview with Track and Field News, given back in February, Knighton remarked, “I believe if I work hard, I will eventually develop to be a world-class athlete. I’m soaking it all up, all the knowledge.”
He has also previously acknowledged comparisons to Bolt, even ahead of beating his record. When asked by Florida Today which athlete he considers himself most similar to, he responded, “Probably Usain Bolt, just because he’s tall like me.”
With the Tokyo Olympics getting underway later this month and a 200m personal best of 19.84 seconds, 2021 could be the year of Erriyon Knighton’s making. Watch this space.