Zharnel Hughes inspired to historic Budapest bronze by Olympic heartbreak

By Sports Desk August 20, 2023

Great Britain’s speed king Zharnel Hughes admits Olympic heartbreak inspired him to his historic 100m bronze at the World Championships.

The 28-year-old clocked 9.88 seconds to finish third in Sunday’s night final – less than an hour after Katarina Johnson-Thompson won heptathlon gold in Budapest.

Hughes became the first British man to win an individual 100m sprint medal at the worlds in 20 years – since Darren Campbell’s bronze in 2003.

The USA’s Noah Lyles took the title in 9.83 seconds with Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo winning silver, just a thousandth of a second ahead of Hughes.

It marks Hughes’ comeback after he was disqualified for a false start in the Olympic 100m final.

He said: “The heartbreak I’ve been through from Tokyo was devastating. Last year, I missed out on the finals. I got knocked out in the semis. I told myself this time, ‘I’m not getting knocked out whatsoever. I’m going to give it my very best’.

“I got through that semis and I told myself in the warm-up, ‘believe Zharnel. You got this’.

“I kept it all in. I cried a lot but lessons were learnt and I dug deep. It’s been years of trying, years of lessons – I wouldn’t call it failure – years of lessons.

“Doubts were there. People probably didn’t believe in me as much but I just need to believe in myself. Over the years the speed has always been there but the mind wasn’t aligned properly. Now it’s instinct.

“This morning I wrote down, ‘get a medal’. I thought I won. Being in the race, it looks a lot closer but a medal is a medal.”

The European 200m champion went into the race as the fastest man in the world this year and was boosted after defending champion Fred Kerley crashed out in the semi final, along with Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs.

Hughes, ranked 12th in the world ahead of the championships, had qualified fourth fastest after running 9.93s in his semi.

Yet he had struggled with a slow start in the heat and semi and, despite the fastest reaction time in the final, still needed to recover in the last 50m to ensure he snatched a podium place in a tight race.

It caps a remarkable summer for the Anguilla-born star, who trains under Usain Bolt’s former coach Glen Mills, after he broke two long-standing British records.

In June, he shattered Linford Christie’s 30-year 100m record by running 9.83s in New York.

A month later in London, he broke John Regis’ 200m mark to post 19.73s. Hughes is now eyeing the 200m and 4x100m relay.

Eugene Amo-Dadzie, an accountant who is due back to work as a senior management accountant for property developer Berkeley Group on August 29, bowed out in the semi-final after running 10.03s – still quicker than Olympic champion Jacobs.

Reece Prescod ran 10.26s and also failed to qualify, ending his championships as the 25-year-old pulled out of the 4x100m relay squad last week.

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