With the World Athletics Championships 2019 just around the corner, the British sprinter is an inspiration on and off the track.
Zharnel Hughes is addicted to flying, and not just flying fast down the track which has led him to gold at the European Athletics Championships. His talent, hard work and ambition take him further, high above the dizzy heights of the clouds.
“To one day be Olympic champion and a commercial airline pilot, that’s the dream,” says Hughes, the Caribbean superstar living in Jamaica, the British athlete is charismatic and confident, but there is no hint of arrogance in his words.
One would perhaps assume that running 100m or 200m would seem somewhat routine to a man who flies thousands of feet into the air in challenging conditions – but not for the European Champion.
“I feel more pressure on the track than in the air,” he stated. “There’s such focus on performing and executing your plan in athletics, then there’s the crowd as well, but when you’re flying it’s just so much more relaxed.”
“When I’m in the cockpit, I’m in complete control. Even when there are crosswinds and bad weather I’m up there soaring, looking out at the scenery, feeling like a bird – and it’s amazing to just feel free.”
Though his plans to become a commercial pilot is for the future, with the World Athletics Championships due to start in just two days, this week his attention is fully on athletics.
In Doha he hopes to become Great Britain’s first 100m world champion since Linford Christie in 1993 and break his British record of 9.87 seconds, which has stood for 26 years.
“Britain hasn’t got any world gold medals since Linford Christie in the 100m or 200m and it’s time to break that curse,” says Hughes.
Hughes could have chosen to compete for Jamaica over GB, he admits that as his mum is Jamaican he gets a lot of comments from people saying they wish he had chosen Jamaica
“It’s an honour, but truthfully I’m so proud to represent Great Britain.”