‘Why you being so modest?’ – Noah Lyles backs Zharnel Hughes for British record

By Sports Desk July 22, 2023

Two-time world champion Noah Lyles has told “modest” Zharnel Hughes another British record will be his after they do battle in the men’s 200 metres in Sunday’s Diamond League meet in London.

Hughes has enjoyed a memorable last month, beating Linford Christie’s long-standing British record when he claimed victory in the 100m at the New York Grand Prix with a time of 9.83 seconds on June 24.

Two weeks later and Hughes was crowned British 100m champion for the first time in eight years when he won in torrential rain in Manchester.

Sunday will see Hughes back in action and John Regis’ British 200m record of 19.94sec – set at the World Championships in 1993 alongside Christie’s previous best 100m effort – is firmly in his sights, according to his biggest rival at the London Stadium this weekend.

When pressed on trying to beat the British 200m record, Hughes told a press conference: “Tomorrow it is about executing my race, it is not going out there to break the British record.

“If it comes, it comes. It is something that is on the (vision) board. If tomorrow it comes, then I am happy for it.”

But American Lyles interjected with a question to the assembled media about what the British 200m record was.

When told it was 19.94, Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Lyles responded: “Oh, we can get that. Why you being so modest man?

“Forget the wind – you just ran in the rain, in a hurricane. We can get that.”

The supremely confident Lyles will be the man to beat at next month’s World Championships in Budapest and he made clear his intention to leave Hungary with gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay, but Hughes is full of belief after an impressive 2023 season.

Hughes said: “Obviously Noah’s in the field and many other guys are there as well. I give respect to who is there, but I am focusing on myself and looking forward to a good race.

“It was something (100m British record) that has always been on the board for me. For me this season it was something that I put on my vision board that I wanted to take down.

“I wasn’t going into the race thinking of breaking the British record, I just wanted to go out there and run fast. When the time came, obviously I was super elated but I was hoping that the wind was legal because there are many times when you run fast that you check the wind and it’s over the limit.

“When I saw the time and then I saw the wind was legal, I was ecstatic and happy because I set this on the board and it was something I accomplished.

“(Being world champion) is definitely within reach. I just have to remain focused and go out there and execute my races, try not to get too overcomplicated with people having expectation because sometimes you can get caught up with that, but my head is in the right place right now.

“For me it is going out there and executing it.”

Sunday’s Diamond League meet will see home favourite Dina Asher-Smith go head to head with Sha’Carri Richardson and Shericka Jackson in the women’s 100m while Olympic men’s high jump gold medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim and Katie Nageotte-Moon, Olympic and world champion in pole vault, will also grace the scene of the London Games in 2012.

Five para events will take place in the capital with Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft, fresh from winning two gold medals at last week’s Para Athletics World Championships, set to compete in the 800m wheelchair event on Sunday.

Organisers have announced more than 50,000 tickets have been sold and Cockroft, who suffered two cardiac arrests after birth which resulted in her needing to use a wheelchair, is excited about the potential attendance in store.

She said: “80,000 at London 2012, that is still my biggest ever crowd.

“I think if all 50,000 turn out tomorrow, that will be my second biggest crowd ever, which is kind of terrifying actually!

“I got back from World Championships like three days ago so this was supposed to be a bit of fun, but now it is getting a bit serious.”

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