Eighteen-year-old Justyn Knight of Vaughn, Ontario, set out to clear the four-minute mile benchmark on Saturday, January 31st in the Penn State National meet. The Syracuse University freshman accomplished what he had set out to do by finishing third with a new personal best and Canadian junior indoor record time of 3:59.51. Knight told Athletics Illustrated, “It was a good fast race. We had two pacers and they took us through 1209m in three minutes. The plan was to just sit on the pack and finish strong at the end.”
And that is exactly what Knight did. In fact, he stayed third-to-last throughout, waiting patiently until there remained a single lap to go, he then moved swiftly past most of the field by unleashing his character low-profile but brutish kick. “I would like to say going for a sub-four was the plan from the beginning. The coaches knew I was in really good shape and decided to enter me in the mile,” Shared Knight.
In that race there were three other sub-four minute miles. They were run by Robert Denault from Villanova who finished first in 3:58.25, Ahmed Bile representing Georgetown came in second, he crossed the line in 3:59.04 and just-in behind Knight was fellow Syracuse teammate Martin Hehir in 3:59.81, who officially set the Syracuse indoor mile record as Knight is currently red-shirting and wore a club singlet from Toronto. He was listed in the results as unattached.
Knight has already demonstrated his prowess as an athlete in the discipline of cross country and outdoor track. In cross country he won national junior cross country championship titles back-to-back in Vancouver, BC. In 2013, as a high-schooler he won finishing ahead of athletes that are already training in University including Michigan’s Ben Flanagan, who finished second. In November of 2014 he defended his title with a win over second place Tulsa Hurricane, Ben Preisner, only shaking him off with a few hundred metres to go in the eight-kilometre race. When asked about his plans this winter he said, “I will continue to train for cross country, also I will be racing the 3,000m in Boston during the weekend of February 14th. We’re aiming to run a fast time there as a tune up before NACAC cross country.”
Knight raced the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships finishing in eighth place with a time of 14:08.93 over the 5,000m distance. In February of last year he competed in the NACAC Cross Country Championships and finished fifth overall, 31 seconds from first place. Each of the four runners ahead of him and many behind were one year older.