Memorial Van Damme welcomes American prodigy Erriyon Knighton (18): “He is the new Bolt”

The eighteen-year-old child prodigy set an absolute super time in the 200 meters at the end of April in the American Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The number four of the Olympic Games in Tokyo rushed to 19.49, the fastest time in the world in ten years.

Knighton had been the world record holder U20 since June last year with 19.84, but now he dived again sensitively under that record. In the all-time global ranking, he rocketed from 35th to 4th place. Only Usain Bolt (19.19), Yohan Blake (19.26) and Michael Johnson (19.32) were ever faster. It’s been a while since the Olympic final in London in 2012 that it ran so fast. Then Bolt ran 19.32 and Blake 19.44.

By comparison, when Bolt was Knighton’s age, he ran 19.93. Not only his age makes the achievement of the eighteen-year-old American unique, but also that he does it so early in the year. Anyone who has ever been faster than him did so in August or September. “He is the new Bolt,” meeting director Kim Gevaert told the press on Thursday.

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Other toppers

American long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Kenyan long-distance runners Paul Tergat and Daniel Komen will be inducted into the Memorial’s Hall of Fame. The Swedish pole vault sensation and world record holder Mondo Duplantis already confirmed his arrival. Belgian record holder Ben Broeders knows what to expect. Among the women are the Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the indoor world champion and number three at the Games, and Yuliya Levchenko, vice world champion in 2017.

The Memorial also commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most legendary athletics evenings in Belgian history. The penultimate round of the Diamond League will then start with an hour run, in which several world records will be attacked, as a tribute to three Belgian athletes who wrote history at the Heysel fifty years ago.

Roaring names such as Miel Puttemans, Gaston Roelants and Willy Polleunis were good for no less than five world records on September 20, 1972. Roelants set the hour record and the 20 kilometers, Puttemans set the world records in the 3 miles and the 5,000m and Polleunis surprisingly went home with the WR in the 10 miles.

The link between the Memorial and the world hour record is not far to seek. Two years ago, Mo Farah set a new hour record and in the same race Bashir Abdi set a new world record in the 20km. This time during the hour run an attack will be made on the WR’s on the 10 miles and the 20 km. The evening will conclude with the 5km, which includes the world record attempt in the 3 miles.

Construction of the new track will start in October, which should be ready for the 2023 edition. Repairs are already being made for this year’s edition. The current track was constructed in 2008 and opened a year later.

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