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US teen sprint sensation who broke Usain Bolt’s world record

Erriyon Knighton is only 18, but his name is already being spoken in the same breath as sprint legend Usain Bolt.

Track athletics phenom Knighton already has a sub-10 second time in the men’s 100m and became the first American teenager to ever run the 200m under 20 seconds, a feat he has repeated several times.

In the longer sprint distance he broke eight-time gold medallist Bolt’s world Under-20 record that had stood unbeaten for 18 years, and has also bettered the world U18 best.

The fast-rising star is a favourite to make a debut at the World Athletics Championships that will be held in July 2022 in Eugene, Oregon.

Here are the top things to know about one of America’s most promising sprinters, who finished fourth in the 200m at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

Knighton’s first sport was football

Just two years ago, the 1.91m (6 foot 3 inch) teenager, who takes his height from his father, a former basketball player, was focused on outrunning the cornerbacks lined up against him on the American football pitch.

The wide receiver at Tampa Hillsborough High School seemed keen to pursue his sporting interests in the NFL, and several of the best American colleges with strong football programmes were keen to draft the speedy teen.

But with most team sports restricted due to the pandemic, Knighton opted to focus on his other passion – track.

“I only started running track in the ninth grade,” Knighton said in an interview with the BBC on his start in athletics as a freshman.

“Before then you could have asked me what 100m was and I wouldn’t have known. I knew nothing about track. By the end of that year, I realised that I was kind of separated from the pack and faster than most people.”

 He’s a world record holder

It turned out to be a smooth switch from football cleats to spikes.

The then 16-year-old was in a class of his own as he shattered the 15-16 age group record with a 20.33 run in the 200m at the AAU Junior Olympic Games.

That race from August 2020 was also the fastest in the U.S. and a huge improvement of his personal best of 20.89.

The previous 15-16 age group record was 20.62 set by Tyrese Cooper from 2016.

The Florida native, who opted to turn professional in January 2021, was just getting started. He dashed to 9.99 seconds but with an high tailwind (+2.7) rendering his time illegal.

Despite that, Knighton had become the third high school sprinter to break 10 seconds, after Trayvon Bromell (9.99, +4.0) in 2013 and Matthew Boling (9.98 +4.2) in 2019.

Five months after that, he blew away a field that included Bromell and Commonwealth Games champion Zharnel Hughes, bettering Bolt’s World U18 best of 20.13 seconds set in 2003.

Knighton ran 20.11.

That mark qualified him for the USATF Olympic Trials where “he put on the gas as he had a world champion chasing him down”.

The 17-year-old made the final of the Olympic Trials, where he achieved several historic firsts.

He topped the 200m semi-finals with a blistering 19.91 seconds, beating world gold medallist Noah Lyles, who had trailed him in the heat again.

The mark surpassed Bolt’s world U20 record from 2004 of 19.93 seconds and also bettered the world U18 best he had run three weeks earlier.

A day later Knighton punched his ticket to Tokyo 2020 with a third-place finish in the 200m in 19.84 seconds behind Lyles and Kenny Bednarek, again lowering the world U20 record.

“I did good. I’m on the team. I’m 17. I can’t complain with that,“ he said after becoming the first high schooler since 1972 to represent Team USA at the Olympics.

Knighton has his eye on Usain Bolt’s senior world record

The young American began his 2022 outdoor season with another quick one on April 30.

He ran the fourth-fastest men’s 200m ever at the LSU Invitational of 19.49, a new world U20 record. Only Bolt [19.19], Yohan Blake (19.26) and Michael Johnson (19.32) have run faster.

After improving the junior world records several times, he is now eyeing another of Bolt’s world bests – the 19.19 he ran at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

“I just want to keep shaving down on my personal best,” he told NBC sport.

“I want the world record. But if it doesn’t come, I won’t be really bothered about it. I’ve still got 10 years left.” – Erriyon Knighton to NBC Sports.

Erriyon Knighton: “I want to be a world champion”

Knighton was outstanding in his first major competition in Tokyo, where he just missed the Olympic podium and became the youngest teen since Jim Ryun in 1964 to represent the United States.

He finished fourth in 19.93 seconds behind the Olympic champion Canadian Andre De Grasse, silver medallist Kenny Bednarek, and bronze winner Noah Lyles.

“In Tokyo, I was kinda upset that I had lost, but I just had to think about the big picture and the long run,” Knighton who is coached by Jonathan Terry told the BBC.

“I get called young every day, I am going to be 24 in 2028, that is in two more Olympics and still kind of young. I think about that all the time.

“As I grow older I am going to get stronger and faster. I am not the perfect 200m runner, I am still learning as I run it.”

He was the third American in that race behind Lyles and Bednarek, which puts him in a good position to punch his ticket to a home championship in Oregon.

“I want to be world champion, or I want to be on the podium,” he said.

Sprint start is still a high schooler

Knighton remains focused on his studies at Hillsborough High School in Tampa.

The sprinter took a break from class when he turned pro with Adidas but is now expected to graduate later this spring.

“There were a lot of people wanting to take pictures with me at the start of the school year. I think I signed an autograph actually, it got that chaotic,” he recalled of his early days back in school.

“It has calmed down now. Now everyone just walks past me just like, ‘Hey, Erriyon’. In other schools in the area, people say to my classmates ‘you go to school with Erriyon’, but for people in my school they see me every day, so it ain’t nothing.”

Source: olympics.com

Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Timothy Cheruiyot resume rivalry In Eugene

Reigning Wanda Diamond League champion Timothy Cheruiyot and Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen will resume their rivalry in the men’s 1500m when they go head to head in the prestigious Bowerman Mile at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on May 28th.

Cheruiyot claimed his fourth career Diamond Trophy when he edged out Ingebrigtsen in the final in Zurich last year, just weeks after the Norwegian had beaten him to the gold medal in Tokyo.

Ingebrigtsen, 21, already has a rich history of success in the Bowerman Mile. At the 2017 Pre Classic Ingebrigtsen became the youngest to ever break the four minute barrier, running 3:58.07 at the age of 16. One year later he would lower his time to 3:52.28 and come back again in 2019 with a 3:51.30. In last year’s race, Ingebrigtsen captured his first Bowerman Mile victory, running the fastest time ever on U.S. soil, 3:47.24. After breaking the Olympic record in Tokyo last summer and taking down the indoor 1500 meter world record earlier this year, it’s clear the Norwegian is ready to cement himself further in the record books.

The budding rivalry between Ingebrigtsen and Cheruiyot will add another chapter at the Pre Classic in 2022. After winning the Bowerman Mile and claiming gold at the World Championships in 2019, Cheruiyot took silver at the Olympic Games last year. He would ultimately bounce back to beat the Norwegian in Zurich.

The third Wanda Diamond League meeting of the season will also feature a strong field in the men’s 5000m, with Canada’s Olympic silver medallist Mo Ahmed taking on home hero Paul Chelimo and 2018 Diamond League champion Selemon Barega of Ethiopia.

Source: diamondleague.com

Shanghai and Shenzhen struck off Diamond League Meetings

The 2022 Wanda Diamond League season calendar has been restructured to ensure fair and transparent competition as two meetings in China are now unable to go ahead as scheduled.

Due to travel restrictions and strict quarantine requirements currently in place for entry into China, the mid-season meetings in Shanghai and Shenzhen will not take place in 2022.

The Wanda Diamond League looks forward to hosting events in China again from 2023 onwards. In the meantime, the series’ priority is to ensure that all athletes are given a fair chance of qualifying for the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich on September 7-8th.

The 2022 Wanda Diamond League will still take place as a full, structured series in which athletes compete for points at meetings throughout the season. Those who earn enough points earn a place in the final in Zurich, where they have the chance to be crowned Wanda Diamond League champion in their chosen discipline.

Each discipline must be staged at least four times on the Road to the Final to ensure athletes are given enough chances to earn points.To ensure that remains the case, certain disciplines which were due to go ahead in Shenzhen and mainly Shanghai have now been reallocated to the Silesia Region in Poland which has staged a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in the past. Details will be published in the next days.

This year’s edition of Kamila Skolimowska Memorial will comply with all Wanda Diamond League (WDL) requirements to ensure equal conditions for the athletes striving to qualify for the WDL Final in Zurich and to deliver an athletics event of highest quality.

Source: diamondleague.com

One-Lap Wonders Miller-Uibo and Gardiner to Light Up Paris

Three-time Diamond League champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and compatriot Steven Gardiner will make up a brilliant Bahamian double bill in the men’s and women’s 400m at the seventh Wanda Diamond League meeting of the season in Paris on June 18th.

Miller-Uibo, who claimed the women’s 400m Diamond Trophy for three seasons in a row between 2017 and 2019, will be looking to pick up valuable points in Paris in her bid to regain the title this season.

The Olympic champion is also after a first world title this summer, and will be out to hit winning form when she heads to France just a few weeks ahead of the championships.

She will be up against Dominican athlete Marileidy Paulino, runner-up in Japan, as well as Amandine Brossier, semi-finalist at the Games and France’s top female athlete over the distance in 2021.

Fellow Bahamian Steven Gardiner, meanwhile, will be out to claim the seventh Diamond League win of his career when he lines up as favourite in the men’s 400m.

Already an Olympic and world champion, the 26-year-old is yet to get his hands on the Diamond Trophy, and last competed on the circuit in Monaco 2019, where he cruised to victory with an impressive 44.51.

Source: diamondleague.com

Junior team jets back from France

Kenyan Junior athletes jetted back in the country last night (Tuesday) from Miramas, France where they had gone on specialized training.

Athletics Kenya officials received the team of 11 sprinters and field athletes has been undergoing a specialized training at the Miramas Athletics Club to sharpen their skills ahead of this summer’s World Junior Championships to be staged in Cali, Colombia.

The team was accompanied by sprints coaches Andrew Maritim and Perpetual Mbutu who were impressed with the progress of the juniors.

“Our aim was to expose these youngsters to facilities that we don’t have in our stadiums. We achieved our target where we also had some competitions with the locals and our athletes posted good times. We are encouraged that we will have a very strong team for the Worlds.” Maritim said.

Ahletes led by team captain Sylvia Chelangat exuded confidence of making the cut at the national trials to be held later in July.

Chelangat, the World Under-20 400m bronze medallist said the lessons drawn from the program will propel her to more success this summer.

“We went there to learn more skills and personally I gained much from our coaches together with their counterparts from Miramas. We were guided on how to use the starting blocks. Although I didn’t achieve a new personal best I have seen alot of improvement on my speed and I hope I can achieve something great in Colombia.” Chelangat said.

Marcell Jacobs to race In front of Home Crowd in Rome

Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs will be hoping for home advantage when he takes on reigning Wanda Diamond League champion Fred Kerley at the fifth meeting of the season in Rome on June 9th.

Jacobs became the first Italian sprinter ever to win 100m gold when he soared to a surprise victory with a European record of 9.80 in Tokyo last summer, and will no doubt be given a hero’s welcome when he hits the track at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Italian, who trains in Rome, will face formidable competition as he bids for his first ever win on the Diamond League circuit, with US stars Kerley and Trayvon Bromell joining him in the blocks.

Kerley, who won the 400m Diamond Trophy in 2019, is now the reigning champion over 100m, hitting form just at the right time last summer as he claimed victories in Brussels and the final in Zurich. Currently top of the world rankings, he claimed silver behind Jacobs in Tokyo with a PB of 9.84.

Bromell is looking to build on a strong season in 2021, in which he celebrated his first ever Diamond League win in Gateshead.

Source: diamondleague.com

Five police officers face sack over search of Bianca Williams

Five officers from London’s Metropolitan Police will face a gross misconduct hearing over the stop and search of two Black athletes, the force said Wednesday.

Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo Dos Santos, who are both professional sprinters, were stopped in west London on July 4, 2020, while traveling with their 3-month-old baby in a car. Both were handcuffed and searched, but nothing was found.

Williams, a sprint relay gold medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 European Championships, accused police of racial profiling and filed a complaint.

“I welcome this decision and hope this opens the door for the Met to start being more honest and reflective about the culture of racism which is undoubtedly still a reality within the organization,” Williams said in a statement released by the couple’s lawyers.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which handles complaints against police in England and Wales, said the five police officers involved in the stop will face a disciplinary panel that “will decide whether allegations that they breached professional standards are proven.”

The police force has apologized for the distress caused to the two athletes. It said the officers patrolling the area stopped and searched the car because they believed it was “being driven in a manner that raised suspicion.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “disturbed” by the incident and said it highlighted the need to overhaul the leadership of the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police department.

London Police Chief Cressida Dick quit in February after Khan publicly criticized her leadership following a string of allegations involving racist and misogynistic behavior within her department’s ranks.

Regional director Sal Naseem said: “All five officers – an acting police sergeant and four police constables – will face allegations they breached police standards of professional behavior for duties and responsibilities and for equality and diversity.

“Four of them also face allegations that they breached the standards for use of force and for authority, respect and courtesy.

“Three of the five – all police constables – will face allegations that they breached the standards for honesty and integrity and one will face an allegation they breached the police standards of professional behavior for orders and instructions.

“These matters were assessed as gross misconduct so it will be for the disciplinary panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair to determine whether or not the allegations are proven.”

If gross misconduct is proven, the officers could face the sack.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen to drop down to the 800m

Jakob Ingebrigtsen will make a rare appearance in the 800m at the Trond Mohn Games in Bergen on 8 June, a World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meeting.

Ingebrigtsen last raced at the distance at the 2020 Norwegian Championships which was also held at the Fana Stadium in Bergen, winning a tactical race in 1:48.72. His lifetime best stands at 1:46.44 which also dates back to 2020.

The 21-year-old is using this race as a chance to sharpen his speed ahead of the Oslo Diamond League on 16 June, one of the most important fixtures on his itinerary which includes both the World Athletics Championships in Oregon and the European Athletics Championships in Munich.

“This is a huge recognition for the meeting and also very good for the people of Bergen. Everyone wants to see Jakob; organisers all over the world want him and Karsten Warholm. Now we have at least one of them and that goes straight into what is the main goal of Trond Mohn Games: to excite the Bergen audience,” event organiser Eddie Ebbesvik told local media.

Ingebrigtsen is expected to open his outdoor season in the Eugene Diamond League on 28 May.

Source: european-athletics.com

Clash of Champions In Eugene 400m

Reigning Wanda Diamond League champion Michael Cherry will take on compatriot and 2019 winner Michael Norman in a clash of the champions in the men’s 400m at the third meeting of the season in Eugene on May 28th.

Cherry, who picked up wins in Brussels and Zurich on his way to a first career Diamond Trophy last season, secured a gold medal alongside Norman in the 4x400m relay at last year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Yet the two Americans will go head to head on home soil at the Prefontaine Classic, with Norman looking this year to win back the Diamond Trophy he lost to Cherry in 2021.

Norman won the 400m at the Prefontaine Classic in Stanford on his way to the title in 2019 and will be hoping to recreate that performance at Hayward Field in May. Since becoming a professional in 2019, he has lowered his 400m personal best to 43.45, the fourth fastest time ever run, and has represented Team USA at the World Athletics Championships in Doha and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. After winning the Olympic Trials last summer, he would go on to finish fifth in Olympic 400m finals and be a part of the gold-medal men’s 4x400m relay team. Heading into the Pre Classic this year, Norman might give Michael Johnson’s meet record of 43.92 a good scare.

Norman and Cherry will be joined by 400m specialist Kirani James. Originally from Gouyave, Grenada, James has medalled in every Olympic Games he has competed in. He won gold in London, silver in Rio, and bronze at last summer’s Toyko games. His lifetime best of 43.74 seconds is eleventh on the all-time list. James has also won the Pre Classic 400m three times in his career; 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Also competing are Americans Vernon Norwood, Will London, and Bryce Deadmon, who have all been a part of a U.S. relay team at either the World Championships in Doha (London, Norwood) or the Olympics in Tokyo (Norwood, Deadmon). Jereem Richards, the World Indoor Championship gold medalist from Belgrade, rounds out the field.

There is an equally scintillating line-up in the men’s 400m hurdles, with Olympic silver and bronze medallists Rai Benjamin and Alison Dos Santos heading a field which includes six national record holders.

The line-up will also feature Tokyo Olympic finalists Kyron McMaster (4th), Abderrahman Samba (5th), Yasmani Copello (6th), Rasmus Magi (7th), and Alessandro Sibilio (8th). McMaster, Copello and Magi all broke their national records in the Olympic finals last year, with Samba, the Qatari national record holder, still running a season’s best in the race. Rounding out the lineup are Olympic semi-finalist Kenny Selmon and the World Indoor 400m bronze medallist Carl Bengtström.

Source: diamondleague.com

2022 Boston Marathon is the deepest field in history

This Boston Marathon may not have legends Eliud Kipchoge or Kenenisa Bekele, but it does have most of the other stars of recent years. It is arguably the deepest Boston men’s field in the race’s 126-year history.

Like with the women’s race, Boston got a boost with a return to its Patriots’ Day date for the first time since 2019. The world’s other jewel spring marathon, London, which usually has the best roster of the spring, is once again being held in the fall this year due to the pandemic.

So this field includes every man who won Boston, London and New York City in 2019 and 2021 (save Kipchoge), the last two world champions, plus recent winners of Chicago and Tokyo.

Picking a favorite is difficult, but the entries can be separated between recent breakthroughs and veteran champions.

Three men in the field earned their first major marathon victories last fall: Kenyans Benson Kipruto (Boston) and Albert Korir (New York City) and Ethiopian Sisay Lemma (London).

The names with more pizzazz: Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor, a longtime training partner of Kipchoge, won New York City in 2017 and 2019, plus three world half marathon titles. But he was fourth in his lone marathon since the start of the pandemic, missing time after fracturing a tibia when hit by a motorcycle while training in June 2020.

Kenyan Lawrence Cherono is the only man other than Kipchoge to win two annual major marathons in one year since the start of 2015. He claimed Boston and Chicago in 2019 and hasn’t had a bad marathon in four years.

Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa is still just 32 years old, which is remarkable given his resume: Boston champion in 2013 and 2015, New York City champion in 2018 and world champion in 2019. He has a DNF and a 35th in two marathons over the last two and a half years, though.

Another Ethiopian, Birhanu Legese, is the third-fastest man in history and thus the fastest man in this field with a personal best of 2:02:48 from 2019. He won Tokyo in 2019 and 2020 and hasn’t finished worse than fifth in a marathon in the last three and a half years.

Ethiopians Lemi Berhanu (won Boston in 2016, second in 2021) and Evans Chebet (seventh-fastest man in history at 2:03:00) also deserves mention.

The fastest Americans in the field are Scott Fauble (2:09:09) and Colin Bennie (2:09:38), plus Olympians Jake Riley and Jared Ward.

Source:  olympics.nbcsports.com