World of Sport

‘New Usain Bolt’ may star for Great Britain at Rio Olympics

World of Sport

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It does not normally take much for fans of British athletics to get very excited about an emerging prospect, but this time it seems the hype could well amount to something.

Remember the name: Zharnel Hughes.

The latest Caribbean sprinting sensation, who has already been branded the 'new Usain Bolt', is making headlines after he won the coveted 100m at the Jamaican Inter-Secondary Schools Boys and Girls Athletics Championships.

As if the fact that he trains with Bolt and Yohan Blake - whose 100m championship record of 10.21 seconds he shattered with his winning time of 10.12s - was not enough already to get the prodigiously talented 18-year-old's name on the map.

He was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Anguilla but now studies in Jamaica and trains alongside Bolt and Blake under coach Glen Mills, whose group continues to dominate world athletics.

It is not just his sensational raw ability that has drawn comparisons to Bolt, however: his lanky, 6ft 3in frame makes him even loosely resemble the Jamaican sprint legend in terms of physique on the track.

So why is all this of interest to British fans, beyond seeing a new lightning bolt on the world scene?

Because Anguilla is a British overseas territory, Hughes is a full British passport holder and is therefore eligible to compete under the Union Flag with immediate effect. It's as simple as that.

Although Anguilla, which has a population of 13,000, can compete independently at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games, it does not have its own Olympic committee and cannot therefore send a team to the Olympic Games.

As such, competing for Britain could well be Hughes's only realistic chance of competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

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And would he be able to seriously compete in two years' time? A 10.12s time in the 100m and 20.32 sec in the semi-finals of the 200m despite easing down markedly in the final 10m should leave no one in any doubt, really.

The prospect of representing the UK is certainly on Hughes' mind, as he prepares to compete at the 200m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

If Hughes wants to perform on the biggest stage, he may opt to emulate Shara Proctor (pictured, below), the British record long jumper, who decided to transfer her allegiance from Anguilla to Team GB in 2010.

British fans can enjoy watching the starlet perform at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as he represents his home country. Then who knows, it may yet pave the way for Hughes to pull on a GB vest in time to make history in Rio?

It will be fun to discover what is to follow, either way.

[British athletics starlet already making a real impact]

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