Athletics

Grateful Hughes dips below 10 seconds

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior Staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 11, 2018

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Although he doesn't want to acknowledge it, Zharnel Hughes is now the premier sprinter at the Racers Track Club following the retirement of the great Usain Bolt.

When asked if he was now the top sprinter at Racers Track Club at the Jamaica Observer Press Club last Wednesday, Hughes was evasive. “You will have to ask coach Mills (Glen) that. For me, I am putting in the work, staying focus, and each time I go out there I try to execute a great race.”

A few days later, there is no doubt as to who was the top runner at the club as he won the 100m at the JN Racers Grand Prix last Saturday in a world-leading 9.91 seconds — which is also his personal best. American prodigy Noah Lyles was second in his personal best of 9.93 seconds, with the 2011 World Championships gold medallist Yohan Blake back in third in a season's best of 10.00 seconds.

Great Britain's Hughes, who was born in Anguilla of a Jamaican mother, has finally dipped below the coveted 10-second barrier after coming close on a number of occasions.

The elegant sprinter, running out of lane five and sandwiched between Julian Forte on his left and Lyles to his right, wasn't the best away but quickly got into his stride and powered past the fast-starting Blake and held off Lyles for an impressive win.

“It was a great race. unfortunately my blocks slipped when I pushed off, so it hampered my start a little bit,” Hughes explained.

“I was able to regain myself, hold my composure and relax, maintain my phases, and came through successful,” he added.

Hughes, who lowered Blake's Champs Class One 100m record from 10.21 to 10.12 in 2014, was defeating Blake for the third time this season. But more importantly, he announced himself to the world as a premier 100m sprinter, lowering his previous best of 10.01.

“I am really happy and it's great to see that the hard work has paid off. I ran nine seconds in Boston the other day, but unfortunately it wasn't legal. But today (Saturday) I made it legal and I am really happy with that,” said the former Kingston College star.

Ironically, it was a wonderful day for both Hughes and Britain's Dana Asher-Smith, who broke up just before the Commonwealth Games, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Asher-Smith won the Stockholm Diamond League in 10.93 seconds just days after lowering her British national record to 10.92 seconds at the Oslo Diamond League.

Hughes went to the Commonwealth Games and after passing the line first in the 200m was later disqualified but rebounded in style, winning at the Boston Games in 9.99 (2.4 mps) and now has the world-leading time.

When he ran in Boston, Hughes pointed out that although it was wind-aided it showed that he was in very good shape and now that he achieved the sub-10 clocking, he was happy.

“I am really grateful. I worked hard for it and I am really happy to see that I got a PB and dipped under 10 seconds. it shows that I am capable and I am just starting to learn the 100m as I go forward this season.

“I definitely think I can go much faster because the block slipped and I wasn't able to get out as quickly as the guys and I had to work really hard to catch up — so I know I can go much faster,” he noted.

This has been a good comeback for Hughes who battled injuries over the last two years and now looks ready to deliver on that huge promise in both 100m and 200m.

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