Tampa teen phenom Erriyon Knighton eyes gold in Tokyo

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A 17-year-old fleet-footed phenom from Florida had quite the morning yesterday — well, evening in Tokyo — if you hadn’t heard.

Driving the news: Erriyon Knighton, a rising senior at Hillsborough High and the youngest Olympian to race for the U.S. in 57 years, secured a spot in today’s 200-meter final by coasting to victory with a semifinal time of 20.02 seconds.

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  • In doing so, he became the youngest male Olympian to make the 200-meter final in 37 years.

  • Don’t miss it: The final will take place in just a few hours at 8:55am.

What they’re saying: "Knighton just got a horrible start, spent half the home straight looking over his shoulder ... and won," tweeted LetsRun.com writer Jonathan Gault. "The 17-year-old is [into] his first Olympic final. Suspect it won’t be his last."

Flashback: Knighton didn’t start running until three years ago, when a football coach saw his speed and told him to join track.

Quick take: There’s reason to believe he could win. Knighton beat current world champion Noah Lyles twice in the Olympic trials. But Canada’s two finalists will be hard to best.

What to watch: When he hits the home straight, he turns on the speed, like he’s been fired out of a slingshot.

The intrigue: If he wins, will he wear his medal to the first day of senior year?

  • "Right when I get home from Tokyo, I’m off to school," he told ABC Action News. "I feel like I should get a couple days off, but I can’t. I’ve got to go to school."

Go deeper: Ben’s daughter Asher profiled Knighton for the HHS student paper this spring and parlayed that into a profile of her classmate in the New York Times.

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