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Erriyon Knighton, teen who broke Usain Bolt junior records, shatters another

Erriyon Knighton

EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 27: Erriyon Knighton reacts after competing in the Men’s 200 Meter Final during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 27, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Erriyon Knighton, who last year at age 17 broke Usain Bolt junior sprint records, shattered his own U20 record in the 200m and became the fourth-fastest man in history on Saturday.

Knighton clocked 19.49 seconds in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the world’s fastest time since the 2012 Olympics, to move behind Bolt (19.19 world record), Yohan Blake and Michael Johnson on the all-time list.

Knighton lowered his personal best and U20 record from 19.84 seconds, set at last year’s Olympic Trials. Knighton went on to finish fourth in Tokyo, becoming the youngest U.S. male track and field Olympian since miler Jim Ryun in 1964.

Bolt broke 19.5 seconds on four occasions -- the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals and 2009 and 2011 World Championships finals. His best time before turning 20 was 19.93. He broke 19.5 for the first time one day before turning 22.

Knighton, who turned professional last year as a Florida high school junior, moved from the joint-35th-fastest man in history to fourth, passing the likes of Tommie Smith (19.83), Carl Lewis (19.75) and Noah Lyles (19.50).

Knighton’s time is the second-fastest 200m ever recorded by an American after Johnson’s then-world record 19.32 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Knighton’s major races this season are at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June and, if he makes the team, the world championships in July. Both meets are in Eugene, Oregon, where he ran 19.84 last summer.

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