Zharnel Hughes: Usain Bolt 'motivates' sprinter in Olympics bid

Usain Bolt and Zharnel Hughes

Teenage sprinter Zharnel Hughes says he is targeting the 2016 Rio Olympics after being ruled eligible to compete for Team GB.

Hughes, 19, was born on the British overseas territory of Anguilla, but has held a British passport since birth.

His training partner is Usain Bolt and he is already being compared with the Jamaican six-time Olympic champion.

"Bolt's a major motivation. He is always telling me to do this and that," Hughes told BBC Radio 5 live.

Hughes's fellow Anguillan Shara Proctor, the British long jump record-holder, switched allegiances in 2010 and competed for Team GB at London 2012.

Four other athletes have been ruled eligible for Great Britain. American Cindy Ofili (100m hurdler) has also held British nationality since birth, while compatriots Shante Little (400m hurdler) and Montene Speight (400m runner), plus Swedish-born high jumper Victoria Dronsfield, all hold British nationality.

In March 2014, Hughes broke Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake's 100m junior record with a time of 10.12 seconds and almost beat Bolt in the 200m on 13 June.

Zharnel Hughes analysis: Mike Costello, BBC Radio 5 live athletics correspondent
"Britain's Richard Kilty, who is the world and European indoor champion over 60m, posted a sarcastic tweet which he has since deleted saying 'good for fans to see home grown talent representing GB'.
"He later said that all the sprinters he'd spoken to felt exactly the same way but didn't dare speak out. But however strong the feelings of Kilty and others, Hughes has every right to represent Britain because of the historical links with Anguilla.
"It is a historical island in the Caribbean and its status is the same as the Falkland Islands as a British overseas territory. I'm not sure there would be the same kind of dissent against an athlete from the Falkland Islands because of the emotions enduring from the conflict more than 30 years ago."

Hughes said he was "ecstatic" and "grateful" to represent Team GB.

"Training with Bolt is a phenomenal experience, it's been a dream come true for me," he added.

Zharnel Hughes (L) beat Yohan Blake's 100m record when he won the Schools Championships last weekend.
Zharnel Hughes (l) beat Yohan Blake's 100m record at the Schools Championships

"I have been looking at videos and analysing these guys. I have always wanted to run against them."

On being compared to Bolt, Hughes added: "I want to make my name out there for myself."

Anguillans can compete at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

Zharnel Hughes. Remember the name.
Read the piece in full about the sprinter here

But athletes from the island are unable to enter the Olympics as Anguilla is not recognised by the International Olympic Committee.

While keen to represent Team GB in Rio, Hughes has other targets in mind, starting with the World Championships in Beijing between 22 and 30 August.

"The target is the Olympic Games for sure but right now I am focusing on the World Championships," said Hughes.

"Execution is key all the time for me. I want to get to the World Championship and get my times."

Who are the new Brits?
EventBornHow do they qualify?
Zharnel Hughes, 19100m AnguillaHas held British nationality since birth
Cindy Ofili, 20100m hurdlesUnited StatesDual nationality through her mother, along with sister and GB hurdler Tiffany Porter
Shante Little, 22400m hurdlesUnited StatesHolds British nationality through her Colchester-born mother.
Montene Speight, 22400mUnited StatesHolds British nationality
Victoria Dronsfield, 24High jumpSwedenHolds British nationality through her father, who was born in England.

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