Justyn Knight leads a new generation of Canadian track talent

Photo by: Claus Andersen/Athletics Canada

It’s been quite a year for Canadian athlete Justyn Knight.

From a top ten finish at the IAAF World Championships to finishing his senior year at Syracuse University with multiple NCAA titles, the 21-year-old Toronto native has established himself as one of Canada’s most talented runners.

Now Knight and many of Canada’s other top athletes are coming to Ottawa to compete at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, which run from July 3-8 at Terry Fox Stadium.

At last year’s Canadian championships, Knight narrowly finished 2nd to Mo Ahmed in the 5,000m finals. The finish qualified him for the IAAF World Championships in London, UK where he found himself competing against the best professional runners in the world, including Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah.

His 9th place finish in the 5,000m at the event showed that Knight was going to be a force for Canada in the coming years. And he caught the eye of Farah, who is one of the top runners in the world competing today.  

“The first time I talked to him [Farah], I was really fanboying it,” he said, but after the race, the two had a chance to talk in the locker room and still keep in touch.

Running step for step with the best in the world gave Knight a boost of confidence when he said he needed it.

“Leading up World’s, I’d had a bad NCAA race, my body was feeling tired, and I’d had a long, tough two years with constantly competing,” he said.

“I think World’s just kind of brought that confidence back,” he said. “I thought ‘you were just kicking it down with some of the best in the world, I can get this job done.'”

That kicked off what would be amazing senior season competing with the Syracuse University Orange.

Knight took first place in the 10,000m race at NCAA Cross Country Championships in the fall, and followed that up with another win in the 5,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the spring, along with a host of other wins at conference meets.

He also received his third consecutive Syracuse Male Athlete of the Year Award.

But Knight isn’t alone competing in the NCAA. He’s part of a new generation of Canadian athletes who have been competing, and winning, at track meets across the U.S.

“Oh I think we’re definitely making a statement down there,” he said.

In addition to Knight and Mo Ahmed, athletes like Kyra Constantine and Rory Linkletter have all been making names for themselves.

“Whenever we see each other, we just get really happy,” Knight said.

That Canadian camaraderie was on full display recently when Kitchener-native Ben Flanagan recently won the NCAA 10,000m Championship, who Knight knows from his high school track meet days.

“Ah man, Ben used to kick my butt back in those days,” Knight said laughing.

Watching Flanagan’s come-from-behind victory from the stands, Knights said he couldn’t contain himself.  

“I was so happy for that kid,” he said. “I was jumping up and down in the bleachers,” before Knight ran down to congratulate his countryman.

Now that school’s out, Knight is ready to move onto the next chapter of his running career, as a pro athlete. His first stop is back in the National Capital competing against Canada’s other stars at the Run Ottawa Distance night on July 5.

Don’t miss this awesome chance to see one of the exciting new stars of Canadian running.

Get $5 off your tickets for Thursday when you use the code runottawa when you buy tickets.

For more information about the Canadian Track and Field Championships and the scheduled events, please visit the Athletics Canada website.

Interesting stats on Justyn Knight:

  • Started running in Grade 10 in gym class
  • Ran his first mile in 3:59. Personal best in the mile 3:55.82
  • 5K personal best: 13:17.51