European champion is hoping to secure success in both the 100m and 200m at the British Championships in Birmingham
Should all go to plan for Zharnel Hughes this weekend, he’ll become the first athlete to complete a British men’s 100m and 200m title double since Marlon Devonish, who achieved the feat in both 2006 and 2007.
The European 100m champion leads the UK rankings for that event thanks to his 9.95 run at last month’s Müller Anniversary Games in London, while this weekend’s Müller British Athletics Championships will offer his first official 200m of the season, after the 20.00 he clocked on a straight track at the adidas Boost Boston Games street athletics event in June.
“This is me ramping things up now as the world championships is right around the corner,” said the Glen Mills-coached 24-year-old, who secured silver in the 100m at last year’s British Championships before going on to win his European title in Berlin.
“My coach and I made a decision that we want to try the double and this weekend will be my first 200m of the season.
“I’m looking forward to competing, hopefully getting the job done and securing my spot for Doha.”
As well as booking his place on the GB team for the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Hughes – who is ranked joint second on the UK 100m all-time list with his PB of 9.91 – also has his eye on the British record of 9.87 held by Linford Christie, who, like Hughes when he is not in Jamaica, is based at Brunel University.
“I’d love to get it,” said Hughes. “I ran 9.96 in London in the heats which was quite easy and I shut down from far out.
“I believe I can run 9.8, possibly a 9.7, but we’ll see.
“I’m not predicting for it to be this weekend because I don’t know what the weather might look like and you have to take into consideration the way you execute.
“Sometimes the wind can fluctuate at the Alexander Stadium. It all depends on how well I complete my race but I’m in good shape and looking forward to it.”
The British 200m record is officially John Regis’ 19.94, although the Olympic and world medallist has a 19.87 PB set at altitude that was never ratified. On whether breaking those marks is also an aim, Hughes added: “For me, this is my first 200m of the season, so I’m not putting any targets in my back. I want to see where I’m at during the rounds.
“When it comes to world championships, we’ll see what happens there.”
Among Hughes’s main challengers in Birmingham are set to be Adam Gemili in the 100m, with Reece Prescod missing through injury, and Miguel Francis in the 200m.
Asked about Gemili and Prescod, Hughes said: “Those guys are really good, you know. They show up when it matters, they are great competitors. Aside from us being very competitive against each other at trials, we are quite cool. We have the same determination. We’re quite ambitious to make it on to the podium so I’m looking forward to racing them.”
Like Hughes, UK 200m leader Francis is also guided by Mills, coach of sprints great Usain Bolt, in Jamaica as part of the Racers Track Club.
“Miguel is a great competitor,” said Hughes. “He trains really well. We train together in Jamaica and we’ve done a few sessions here.
“I’m sure he’ll be one of the ones to challenge in the 200m on Sunday.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, he added: “This is just one major stepping-stone towards Doha, because if it doesn’t go my way, it doesn’t say I can’t still win Doha.
“At trials last year, I finished second but at the European Championships, I was able to put myself together and I got the win.”
» Remaining tickets for the Müller British Athletics Championships are on sale at the British Athletics box office in the spectator village at the Alexander Stadium