Rice Lake native Kenny Bednarek has advanced to the 200-meter dash finals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The Olympic sprinter won his opening round quarterfinals heat on Monday evening (Aug. 2) and placed second in the seminfinals on Tuesday morning (Aug. 3).  

Bednarek, 22, was a winner in his first race of the Tokyo Olympic games as he won his heat of the 200-meter sprint, running the fastest time in the quarterfinals, winning in a time of 20.01. American teammate Noah Lyles, who is the No. 1-ranked runner in the world, had the third-fastest time at 20.18.

In the semifinals round the morning of Aug. 3, Bednarek ran in the third and final semifinal heat and finished with a second-place time of 19.83, behind Canada’s Andre de Grasse, 19.73, to qualify for the finals of the 200-meter sprint finals.

Fellow American and 17-year-old phenom Erriyon Knighton also qualified for the finals, taking first in his heat in 20.02 seconds. Lyles qualified for the finals based on his time of 19.99, despite automatic berths going to Canada’s Aaron Brown and Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh in that heat.

In Wednesday morning’s finals it will be the three Americans, de Grasse, Brown, Fahnbulleh, along with Rasheed Dwyer of Jamaica and Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago. Bednarek is the fifth-ranked runner in the world, and third-ranked among the finalists.

The 200-meter finals are scheduled to take place at 7:55 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

bednarek in 4x100-meter relay

Bednarek will also compete on the United States’ 4x100-meter relay team with teammates Trayvon Bromell, Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley.

The two preliminary heats will be aired at 9:30 p.m. and 9:39 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 3. The 4x100-meter relay finals are set for 8:50 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 6.  

Career highlights

Bednarek took second in the 200 meters at the Olympic Trials with a time of 19.78 seconds and set a personal record in the event, narrowly finishing behind champion Noah Lyles (19.74). On Aug. 10, 2020, in the COVID-19 abbreviated season, Bednarek ran a world-leading 19.80 at the Star Athletics Sprint Showcase in Montverde, Florida. The time moved him up to a tie for 25th best of all time. He became the first American athlete to break 20 seconds in the 200 meters and 45 seconds in the 400 meters on the same day at the 2019 NJCAA Championships in Hobbs, New Mexico. He was named USA Track & Field athlete of the week on May 22, 2019, for his record-setting performance at the NJCAA Championships. He won a gold medal in the 200 at the 2019 World Championships. Running for Rice Lake High School, Bednarek won seven individual WIAA titles and led his team to a 4x400 relay championship. His 20.43 was the No. 1 high school time in the nation in 2018.