Faster than Usain Bolt
18-year-old world record holders shock the sprint world
05/02/2022, 1:45 p.m
Only three people ran the 200 meters faster than Erriyon Knighton – and he is only 18 years old. Even Usain Bolt’s world record seems in jeopardy. Letsile Tebogo also runs an outstanding time, the junior world champion shines over 100 meters.
Erriyon Knighton has always oozed confidence. He believes, said the sprint miracle some time ago, that if he works hard he will “eventually develop into a world-class athlete”. And the American has been in the world class since Saturday at the latest: With 19.49 seconds he set a U20 world record over 200 meters in Louisiana. Only three people have ever been faster than Tokyo’s Olympic fourth-placed 18-year-old Knighton.
“Is the world record in danger?” he wrote with a wink on Instagram for a post in which he placed his famous development next to that of the young Usain Bolt. The retired Jamaican superstar’s best time is 19.19 seconds, with Knighton targeting the times of Yohan Blake (19.26) and Michael Johnson (19.32). Within a year he improved his time by 35 hundredths. “If you knew how much I had to sacrifice for it,” wrote Knighton, who has long been under contract with a German sporting goods manufacturer.
But Knighton wasn’t the only one to cause a stir over the weekend. Just hours earlier, Letsile Tebogo, another prodigy, had set the standard for his age group. The 18-year-old from Botswana flew to the U20 world record over 100 meters in 9.96 seconds at a meeting in his home country.
From football back to the track
He raised his hands almost apologetically as he crossed the finish line. “I’m really very proud and I hope that I can continue on this path in my career,” said the U20 world champion, who was the first person from Botswana to finish the king’s route in under ten seconds.
Tebogo’s path to the sprint elite was not predetermined. After starting track and field as a child, he first switched to soccer. “But that was a frustrating time for me because I was always benched. That made me return to athletics because I saw that I could support my family that way,” said Tebogo.
Knighton also only came to athletics via detours. He found his love for sprinting after his football coach gave the former wide receiver a few tempo sessions. Since then, Knighton has outrun (almost) everyone with his long stride, his potential is huge. Just like Tebogos.