Hughes targets Olympic glory; expects Racers Grand Prix to offer taste of potential Paris test

By April 25, 2024
HUGHES...to have great competition like that at the Racers Grand Prix is just a great indicator to see where we're at. HUGHES...to have great competition like that at the Racers Grand Prix is just a great indicator to see where we're at. file

Winning a first global individual medal at last year’s World Championships whetted Zharnel Hughes’s appetite for more success, and so it comes as no surprise that the Anguillan-born Great Britain sprint sensation is strongly optimistic about clinching a medal at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

In fact, if Hughes’s confidence to top his performances from last year is anything to go by, then he could very well accomplish the feat, provided he maintains a clean bill of health throughout the season.

During last year’s electrifying campaign, which ended with his World Championships bronze in the men’s 100m final, Hughes broke Olympic champion Linford Christie’s 100m British national record when he clocked a personal best 9.83 seconds at the New York Grand Prix, in June.

A month later, at the UK Athletics Championship, Hughes ran a brisk 19.77s, which is faster than John Regis’s national 200m record, but the time was wind-aided and, as such, was recognised as a record. However, Hughes, with his superb form, inevitably established a new record when he clocked a wind-legal 19.73s at the London Diamond League.

With that in mind, coupled with his relentless work ethic and resolute pursuit of excellence, Hughes is poised to make another significant impact on the world stage this year. Whether or not it will be an Olympic gold medal triumph is left to be seen.

“It's the Olympic year, so obviously you want to better what you did last year. I'm happy with how last year turned out for me, and this year is very much more exciting. I'm preparing myself nicely. I'm feeling fit and ready to go. Obviously as an athlete, you want to lower your personal best every year, but unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't work out like that. But I'm definitely aiming to lower my personal best both in the 100m and 200m,” Hughes declared.

“I'm in good shape and I’m excited. I've definitely counted myself as one of them (athletes) to be reckoned with (for an Olympic gold medal). I'm never going to count myself out now because you've seen what happened last year, and I'm excited to top my performance from last year,” he added.

Though he 48.25s in a 400m run in February, followed by a 20.40s-clocking in March, the 28-year-old pointed out that he is yet to really hit top gear in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games, but is aiming to do so at the sixth edition of the Racers Grand Prix, on June 1, at Jamaica's National Stadium.

At the Racers Grand Prix, Hughes will line up alongside Racers Track Club teammate Oblique Seville and American World champion Noah Lyles in the 100m, which he considers a good prelude for what could come at the Paris Games.

“I'm looking forward to it, I was listening for who was going to be there; Oblique and I have been training pretty good and I know both of us representing coach Glen Mills, will be bringing it on the day. So, I look forward to who's in the field, especially with Lyles being there,” Hughes said.

“This race is to get you prepared for what's to come later in the summer. So, to have great competition like that at the Racers Grand Prix is just a great indicator to see where we're at, and what we can tweak going into our national trials, because my trials will be the latter part of June. So, for me, I'm looking forward to this race and the following week I'll have the European Championships as well. So, it'll be a great indicator for me,” he shared.

Working tirelessly under the watchful eyes of decorated coach Mills, Hughes, a four-time European Champion, has upped the ante in the gym to improve his strength, as he is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for Olympic glory.

“My training has been going tremendously well. I'm excited to open up properly (at Racers Grand Prix) because my first race wasn't so good because I had a little niggle, but I've overcome that now and I'm very excited to see what's there. I've worked on my strength a lot, physically, I'm a lot stronger and I just want to keep on top of my mental health as well,” Hughes revealed.

“Those things are very crucial going into an Olympic year, so you have to be very focused. You have to ensure that your body is properly fit as well in order to go there to give the best that you're looking for. So, I'm pretty sharp on keeping my mental focus up and ensuring that I'm properly recovered,” he ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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