Athletics: Teen Knighton keeps record-breaking year on track at US Olympic trials

Erriyon Knighton beat world champion Noah Lyles, who claimed a second-best 20.19 finish at Hayward Field.
Erriyon Knighton beat world champion Noah Lyles, who claimed a second-best 20.19 finish at Hayward Field.PHOTO: ERRIYON.K/INSTAGRAM

EUGENE, OREGON (REUTERS) - Teenage sensation Erriyon Knighton stunned the men's 200m field at the U. Olympic trials on Friday (June 25) with the leading time in the opening round of 20.04 seconds, weeks after he toppled eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt's junior record.

Knighton, 17, beat world champion Noah Lyles, who claimed a second-best 20.19 finish at Hayward Field and broke the 23-year-old's American high school record of 20.09.

"That was my first time racing against him. I've watched tons of his races. I love to see it," said Lyles. "It reminds me of myself coming out here in 2016. I want to see people taking that path and other paths."

Lyles, a favourite to win the event at the Tokyo Games, failed to make the cut in the 100m earlier in the trials.

Knighton, who told reporters he counted Bolt, Lyles and four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson among his inspirations, will compete in Saturday's semi-finals.

"I saved something most definitely," said Knighton, who believes it could take a 19.8 or 19.7 to punch a ticket to Tokyo. "You don't want to push to your full capacity but you want to make it through the rounds and make the top three, but you can't use all your energy in one race."