Zharnel Hughes

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    Great Britain & N.I. Great Britain & N.I.
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    13 JUL 1995

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
100 Metres 10.10 +1.4 Kingston (NS), JAM 16 APR 2016
200 Metres 20.02 -0.1 Beijing (National Stadium) 27 AUG 2015

Progression - Outdoor

100 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2017 10.12 NWI Kingston (NS), JAM 11 MAR
2016 10.10 +1.4 Kingston (NS), JAM 16 APR
2015 10.15 +1.6 Kingston (NS), JAM 30 MAY
2014 10.12 +1.3 Kingston (NS), JAM 28 MAR
2013 10.23 +1.7 Morelia 05 JUL
2012 10.42 +1.1 San Salvador 29 JUN

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2017 20.22 +0.4 Rabat (Prince Moulay Abdellah) 16 JUL
2017 20.22 +1.2 Kingston (NS), JAM 10 JUN
2016 20.62 -1.3 Saint-Martin 07 MAY
2015 20.02 -0.1 Beijing (National Stadium) 27 AUG
2014 20.32 +1.3 Kingston (NS), JAM 27 MAR
2013 20.79 Kingston (NS), JAM 25 MAY
2012 20.90 +0.1 Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico) 12 JUL

Honours - 100 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
14th IAAF World Junior Championships 4sf2 10.55 -0.5 Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico) 11 JUL 2012

Honours - 200 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
15th IAAF World Championships 5 20.02 -0.1 Beijing (National Stadium) 27 AUG 2015
IAAF World Junior Championships 2014 5 20.73 +2.3 Eugene (Hayward Field), OR 25 JUL 2014
14th IAAF World Junior Championships sf1 DNS Barcelona (Estadio Olímpico) 12 JUL 2012

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Created 19 July 2014

Zharnel HUGHES, Anguilla (100m/200m)

Born 13 July 1995, Sandy Ground, Anguilla

1.90m /83 kg

Lives: Kingston, Jamaica

Coaches: Winston Duncan, Alexis Ryan, Patrick Dawson, Glen Mills.

 

It has become a common story, when up-and-coming talented sprinters are being referred to as the “next Usain Bolt.” Whether there will ever be a new Bolt - no one really knows. But if the praise is actually coming from the Jamaicans, and especially the coaches and the athletes, who know where Bolt is coming from, that should mean this youngster, Zharnel Hughes, has something special in him.

 

Zharnel was born in Anguilla, but his mother is Jamaican. And there were runners in the family on his mother’s side. “They just haven’t made it as far as I’m doing it,” he explains. But the Anguillan part of his family seems to be even faster. “I would say, the running came about from my father's side the most, but don't get me wrong, my mother can run, as well, but she cannot beat my father if they were to race each other,” laughs Hughes. His two younger brothers were also running track, until they got distracted by other hobbies in high school.

 

Zharnel got into athletics when he was just ten years old. The youngster took part in the sports day at school, beat everyone in his age category and was moved up to race the older boys. He impressed the coaches and was invited to attend training sessions. “Very soon I got selected to represent my school at the Inter Primary School Sports Day, where I rounded up five gold medals. That’s when it all started, and I was falling in love with the sport more and more, as I was getting older,” recalls Hughes.

 

The most important thing is that he was getting faster and faster. At his first Carifta Games, in 2010, he made it to the 100m final and finished eighth. The following year, 15-year-old Zharnel placed sixth in this competition, clocking a sub-11 time of 10.96.

 

In 2012, he kept improving his times. Most importantly, he managed to run his best races when it mattered the most. There definitely was a bit of luck in what happened that year. He took bronze in the 100m at the Carifta Games, only losing to older athletes - Jamaica’s Jazeel Murphy and Shane Jones from the Bahamas. Then, the Anguillan took second in the 100m at the CAC Youth Championships behind Jamaica’s Jevaughn Minzie, only losing by thousands of a second. In the 200m, Hughes was the fastest, dipping under 21 seconds for the first time - 20.98 in a headwind (-1.5).

 

Just two weeks later, Hughes was representing his country at the World Junior Championships, a couple days before he even turned 17. He didn’t make it to the finals, but he got something bigger out of this. “The World Junior Championships is when, I suspect, I was spotted by the late Honorable Mr Neil Teddy McCook. After that, I was granted the scholarship from the IAAF and that's how I got into the High Performance Training Centre in Kingston…” explains Zharnel.

 

The IAAF has several High Performance Training Centres (HPTC) in different areas of the world, and they are focused on different events. The one in Kingston is, of course, all about sprints. Every year several up and coming athletes from the region are invited to live and train there, using the facilities of the University of the West Indies and working with the coaches of the Racers Track Club, Patrick Dawson and Glen Mills. Yes, the same coaches who work with the likes of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.

 

Of course, the HPTC runners don’t get to do all sessions with the stars, but they often do similar workouts and get to see how their role models train. And this is one of the biggest motivators for Zharnel. “Seeing these world class sprinters giving their all at every session, falling to the track exhausted, then coming back up to keep going, this has been a huge inspiration for me,” admits the Anguillan prodigy.

 

After spending one year in Kingston, Zharnel won the 100m at the Carifta Games and at the Pan American Junior Championships, and brought his personal best down to 10.23. But, most importantly, he got to stay at the HPTC for the next season, too. He decided to enroll at Kingston College for his senior year to graduate from high school. This made him eligible for the Boys and Girls Championships, the biggest and the most anticipated athletics competition in Jamaica. In front of 30 thousands of people at the National Stadium, Hughes defeated his usual rival Minzie in the 100m, clocking 10.12. Which meant he broke Yohan Blake’s meet record of 10.21 by a rather big margin! Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from the 200m final after feeling tightness in his hamstring, but he ran a personal best of 20.32 in the semifinal – a huge improvement over his previous mark of 20.79.

 

Even though Zharnel is not Jamaican, he was definitely the most talked about athlete after Champs. That was when the whole “next Usain Bolt” story started. “Well, my social media did blow up. I still have up to 600 friend requests on Facebook, and my Instagram keeps getting more followers too. The guys at school looked at me as if I was a legend. They were all looking out for me, making sure I got my lunch, making sure my school work was done and so forth,” smiles Zharnel.

 

On the track, however, things weren’t looking as great. It took him more than a month of patience and rehab procedures to get back to proper speed work. But this downtime has paid off, and Hughes is approaching his second IAAF World Junior Championships, to be held in Eugene, Oregon, as the CAC Junior Champion. In Morelia, at the beginning of July, he ran 20.33 in the 200m final. With 20.32 and 20.33, he is the World Junior leader in this event, and number four in the 100m with 10.12.

 

The whole world is anticipating his duel with the joint World Junior record holder (9.97) from the USA, Trayvon Bromell. with addition Hughes is looking forward to that too, and doesn’t seem to be too fazed. “He is a phenomenal athlete, he has his head on and wants to be successful as bad as I do. I don't have much to say about his times, it's all about what goes down on that day when we line up at the start in Eugene,” explains the Anguillan.

 

There is a lot of work to be done at Hayward Field over the week of the World Junior Championships, and there are many important decisions to be made after this competition. With such fast times, Hughes has a lot of options to choose from: he could go to the USA to compete within the NCAA system, or go to college in Jamaica, or turn professional right away. What would his choice be? “I haven't told anyone yet about my next step. I will be coming back to Jamaica, and I was told that I would be granted the opportunity to start my second career choice of becoming a pilot, but as for track, I'm making my decisions after Oregon 2014,” says Zharnel.

 

Whatever decision he makes, we will definitely be hearing more about the sprint prodigy Zharnel “Swift” Hughes: “I live up to a motto that says: “One day, I want to inspire as many people, as I possibly can, before I expire.” I'm setting a great example for the youths, and influencing them to do positive things. All in all, I’m just trying to have a happy life while worth living. I keep everything simple, that's just me, I'm a simple person and I love being the person that I am.”

  

Personal Bests

100m: 10.12 (+1.3) (2014)

200m: 20.32 (+1.3) (2014)

Yearly Progression

100m/200m 2010: 11.14 /-; 2011: 10.81 /-; 2012: 10.42 NR /20.90 NR; 2013: 10.23A NR /20.79 NR; 2014: 10.12 NR /20.32 NR

Career Highlights

2010

8th    

Carifta Games (Georgetown)

(100m)

11.14

(+0.6)

2011

6th

Carifta Games (Montego Bay)

(100m)

10.96

(-0.4)

2011

8th

Commonwealth Youth Games (Douglas)

(100m)

10.92

NA

2012

3rd

Carifta Games (Devonshire)

(100m)

10.41w

(+5.7)

2012

4th

Carifta Games (Devonshire)

(200m)

21.26

(+0.5)

2012

2nd

CAC U18 Championships (San Salvador)

(100m)

10.46 (10.42 in h)

(-0.6)

2012

1st

CAC U18 Championships (San Salvador)

(200m)

20.98

(-1.5)

2012

SF

World Junior Championships (Barcelona

(100m)

10.55 (10.50 in h)

(-0.5)

2012

h

World Junior Championships (Barcelona

(200m)

20.90

(+0.1)

2013

1st

Carifta Games (Nassau)

(100m)

10.44

(-0.4)

2013

4th

Carifta Games (Nassau)

(200m)

20.77w

(+3.4)

2013

7th

CAC Championships (Morelia)

(100m)

10.25A (10.23 in h)

(+0.5)

2013

1st

Pan American Junior Championships (Medellin)

(100m)

10.31A

(+1.8)

2014

1st

Boys & Girls Championships (Kingston)

(100m)

10.12

(+1.3)

2014

1st

CAC Junior Championships (Morelia)

(200m)

20.33

(+0.8)

 

 Prepared by Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2014        

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