“England’s Zharnel Hughes may not be as well known as some of the other home country sprinters, but I think he’s one that will step up and make a big name for himself at these games,” says BBC pundit Steve Cram, who knows a thing or two about making your name at the Commonwealth Games — he won the gold medal in the 1500m in Brisbane in 1982, his first victory at a major championships.
“Hughes is a huge talent and has based himself in Jamaica, which has really helped to get him in great shape already.”
Hughes, 22, made the semi-finals of the 200m at the World Championships in London last summer, having missed the Olympic Games in Rio the year before. “The two-year cycle towards the next Olympics starts right here,” says Cram. “But people shouldn’t assume the home nations are going to win a haul of medals. We didn’t win any individual medals on the track at the last Commonwealth Games. They are really hard to come by because you’ve got some big athletic powerhouses there: South Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean nations, Kenya and a lot of the other African sprinters, too.”
But Cram believes Hughes, who ran for Anguilla until 2015, having been born and brought up in the British Overseas Territory, is now ready to take on the best in the 200m and 4x100m relay. “Zharnel has warmed up with a couple of races in Jamaica and has run really quick, so he’s fast heading up the world rankings.
I expect his fellow England sprinter Adam Gemili to go well in the 100m, but these Games are where Zharnel could announce himself as England’s next sprint star.”
Hughes will compete in the 200m heats on Monday 9th April on BBC1 and in the 4x100m relay heats on Thursday 12th April