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Teenager Knighton Stuns World Champion Lyles in 200m US Olympic Trials

Erriyon Knighton (center) wins the first heat of the men's 200-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials (AP Photo)

Erriyon Knighton (center) wins the first heat of the men's 200-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials (AP Photo)

Erriyon Knighton, 17, beat world champion Noah Lyles, who claimed a second-best 20.19 finish at Eugene.

Teenage sensation Erriyon Knighton stunned the men’s 200 metres field at the US Olympic trials on Friday 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 Eugene, Oregon’s Hayward Field and broke the 23-year-old’s US 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.

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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.”

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first published:June 26, 2021, 04:15 IST