‘CJ is a great guy, regardless’: British sprint star Zharnel Hughes breaks silence and forgives GB doper CJ Ujah after being stripped of Olympic silver medal
- Zharnel Hughes says he has forgiven the doper who cost him his Olympic medal
- He was stripped of his 4x100m relay medal after Ujah tested positive in Tokyo
- Hughes breezed through the 100m heats at the British Championships on Friday
As he begins his mission to make up for lost prizes, Zharnel Hughes says he has forgiven the doper who cost him his Olympic silver medal.
Hughes, who breezed through the 100m heats at the British Championships in Manchester on Friday evening, was among the innocents with Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake that were stripped of their 4x100m relay medals when CJ Ujah tested positive for drugs in Tokyo.
After clocking 10.18sec to win his heat and qualify second quickest for Saturday’s semi-finals, the European champion broke his silence on the darkest episode in British Olympic history.
While Kilty has been scathing of Ujah, Hughes struck a more surprising tone in saying: ‘What do you want to hear? CJ is a great guy, regardless. What happened to him is unfortunate, sadly.
‘But I don’t show him any disrespect. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time but, the last time I spoke to him, he apologised and said sorry.
‘I forgive him. Sometimes these things do happen, which is very sad in his case, but I wish him all the best in the future. I can’t change anything. It’s already gone. We’ve been removed from the history books. It’s sad – but I can’t do anything about it.’
British 4x100m relay team were stripped of their medals after CJ Ujah (above) tested positive
Hughes’s heats win came a month after he received brutal criticism from Michael Johnson for false starting at the Birmingham Diamond League, which followed his disqualification for the same reason in the 100m Olympic final.
In response to Johnson saying Hughes was ‘taking a lane that should go to someone who’s going to finish the race’, Hughes said: ‘It doesn’t bother me – it comes with being a high-profile athlete. For me, it’s in the past. I’m focusing on the future. I don’t need to prove anything.’
Britain’s main male sprinters in Manchester, including the resurgent Reece Prescod (10.22sec) and Ojie Edoburun (10.18sec), all comfortably made it through the heats, with the first two in Saturday’s final eligible for selection for next month’s World Championships.
(L to R): Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake all lost their medals
Dina Asher-Smith, the reigning world champion at 200m and silver medallist at the shorter distance, was second quickest in the women’s 100m heats. She eased up to cross in 11.16sec to win by almost 0.4sec, but was some way down on the quick 11.05sec clocked by Olympic finalist Daryll Neita.
With Neita’s sharp progress in the past year, Asher-Smith is facing a stiff challenge to defend her national title on Saturday.
Asher-Smith, whose timings rank outside the world top 12 in both the 100m and 200m this year, said: ‘The aim was to qualify, come back tomorrow and lift it a bit. I’m good, I’m excited. My aim for the weekend is just to qualify (for the worlds).’