SJA Sportsman of the Year: The case for Zharnel Hughes

SJA members can vote now to decide the winners of three major categories at the Awards, to be held at The Kia Oval in London on Thursday 7 December; Jake Wightman, Beth Mead and the Lionesses claimed the equivalent 2022 honours; who will take the top prizes this year? Voting deadline is 15 November…

By Eddie McAteer

Of the select few who make it to the elite world of professional sport, most have to settle simply making it. Many of them dream of breaking records, but only a handful can achieve that distant hope.

For Zharnel Hughes, that dream is one that he has not only achieved, but perhaps even surpassed.

This summer, Hughes broke two 30-year-old British athletics records to become the fastest man in Britain.

He is the best male sprinter Great Britain has seen in a generation, arguably ever.

In June, the sprinter took 0.04 seconds off the great Linford Christie’s 100m record, running it in just 9.83s.

He said: “I’m just so happy to achieve a major milestone in my career.”

Not content with that, he then went on to break John Regis’ record for the 200m a month later, taking a whopping 0.21s off the record by running a 19.73s.

That achievement took place at his home Diamond League meet in London, where he said he’d wanted to break the record.

Not only did Hughes break the records, he even predicted the times he would run them in, revealing on X that before both races he had written down the exact times he went on to run. 

Hughes is now the fastest man in British history over both 100m and 200m, as well as the second fastest European, and at 28 still has a few more years left in him.

He also claimed after breaking the 200m record that he can get even faster.

He said: “I’ve seen some little bits I can work on – and it’s exciting for me.

“I’m not pressured one bit. I am enjoying myself. I can get much faster.”

So, Hughes is phenomenally quick, incredibly hard-working and may even be able to predict the future, what more could you want?

How about medal winning, as Hughes won his first ever individual medal at a World Championship by taking bronze in Budapest.

With the Paris Olympics just around the corner, Hughes could be Team GB’s first 100m medallist since Christie himself in 1992. 

Should Hughes go on to reach the podium in Paris, he will go down in history as the ninth British male to do so in the 100m. 

Regardless of what happens next summer, Hughes is a sprinting talent that Britain has not seen in a generation, and one we may not see for another generation.

Sports journalist Eddie McAteer is a member of the SJA Academy – find out more about membership here.