Zharnel Hughes, the current world’s fastest man, shattered the British 100m record in June, cementing his name in history. But his achievements are not a result of chance; they stem from meticulous planning and unwavering dedication. In fact, Hughes had accurately foreseen his blistering 9.83-second sprint in New York, surpassing Linford Christie’s remarkable performance at the 1993 World Championships down to the hundredth of a second.
Displayed prominently on his living room wall, a vision board reveals Hughes’ most ambitious aspirations. While he keeps one specific target discreet, its revelation awaits its realization, likely at the upcoming World Championships where it truly matters.
“The board encompasses images of my triumphs from past seasons and beyond. The times are there too, but execution takes precedence for the times to materialize,” confides the 27-year-old to Sport Newes Center.
However, Hughes’ goals extend beyond the realm of track and field. His vision board outlines a roadmap for his life’s objectives.
Becoming a certified pilot, for instance, was no fortuitous occurrence. In 2018, Hughes transformed a cherished childhood dream into reality by successfully completing flight school. The seed of this aspiration was planted when he sat in the cockpit of a small plane during a journey from his birthplace, Anguilla, to the British Virgin Islands. Despite being sternly cautioned not to touch anything in the cockpit as a curious 10-year-old, Hughes’ fascination with aviation never wavered.
“The experience is absolutely breathtaking,” declares the reigning European 200m champion. “The captivating scenery, the exhilarating atmosphere of hearing fellow pilots on the radio frequencies, and the symphony of engines—it’s simply awe-inspiring to know you have control.”
Relocating to Jamaica for his pilot training proved transformative in every aspect of Hughes’ life. There, he continued his athletic development alongside sprinting legends Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, under the expert guidance of Glen Mills, the coach instrumental in Bolt’s conquest of eight Olympic titles.
“I remember being completely starstruck,” reminisces Hughes. “Seeing Usain Bolt for the first time—someone I idolized, whose videos I repeatedly studied to learn how to run faster—it was an unforgettable pinch-yourself moment.”
Initially surreal, Hughes eventually forged close friendships with these two fastest men in history, who affectionately referred to him as “captain” and “skipper” during their time together at the esteemed Racers Track Club in Kingston.
“They were my ultimate inspirations, propelling me to become the athlete I am today,” admits Hughes. “Being in their presence only intensified my motivation to work harder. These legends were already at the pinnacle, yet witnessing their work ethic, unwavering determination, and mutual support was a privilege.”
With similar towering physiques—both comfortably surpassing 6ft in height—parallels between Hughes and Bolt are inevitable. Yet, their shared physical attribute poses challenges for a clean and swift start.
Fortunately, Hughes’ coach is well-versed in harnessing this apparent disadvantage.
“He comprehends the requirements of competing among the world’s greatest athletes. I hold him in the highest regard; he’s like a father figure,” acknowledges Hughes, referring to Mills, who has dedicated significant attention to improving the athlete’s running mechanics, particularly during the initial stages of a race.
“Coach often tells me that Usain and I exhibit similar traits, which he’s accustomed to handling. We may not be explosive starters like everyone else, but once we find our rhythm and hit our stride, we unleash unstoppable power down the track. That’s what he values.”
Recently, it was announced that Fred Kerley and Noah Lyles, reigning world champions in the 100m and 200m events, respectively, will compete alongside Hughes in the longer sprint at the London Diamond League on July 23. As the fastest man of the year, this challenge excites him as he builds momentum toward the World Championships in Budapest, scheduled for August. Although not his primary aim, Hughes concedes that setting a second British record within a few months on home turf would be “exhilarating.”
For now, Hughes is focused on his immediate target: a sprint double at the UK Championships in Manchester on July 8-9, which also serves as the world trials.
“I eagerly anticipate these competitions. I genuinely love what I do. With my hard work and preparation, I approach these moments with a relaxed and joyful mindset,” asserts Hughes.
“These are the opportunities to showcase to the world the fruits of my labor. I’m immensely grateful for achieving a long-held ambition, but my journey is far from over. Everything is aligning perfectly right now.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about World Championships success
Q: How did Zharnel Hughes break the British 100m record?
A: Zharnel Hughes broke the British 100m record through meticulous planning and unwavering dedication. He accurately predicted his 9.83-second run in New York, surpassing Linford Christie’s performance at the 1993 World Championships.
Q: What other goals does Zharnel Hughes have besides track and field?
A: Zharnel Hughes has goals beyond track and field. He fulfilled a childhood ambition by becoming a qualified pilot in 2018. Hughes is passionate about aviation and had a strong desire to pursue flying since a young age.
Q: How did training in Jamaica impact Zharnel Hughes?
A: Training in Jamaica was a transformative experience for Zharnel Hughes. He had the opportunity to train alongside sprinting legends Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, under the guidance of coach Glen Mills, who played a vital role in Bolt’s success. Being in their presence inspired Hughes and motivated him to work harder.
Q: What challenges does Zharnel Hughes face due to his height?
A: Zharnel Hughes, like Usain Bolt, faces challenges with the initial stages of a race due to his height. They are not explosive starters like some other athletes, but their coaches have focused on harnessing their power once they hit their stride and find their rhythm.
Q: What are Zharnel Hughes’ upcoming competitions?
A: Zharnel Hughes has the London Diamond League on July 23, where he will compete alongside Fred Kerley and Noah Lyles. He is also aiming for a sprint double at the UK Championships in Manchester on July 8-9, which includes the world trials. His ultimate goal is the World Championships in Budapest in August.