Zharnel Hughes says he has forgiven CJ Ujah for failing a drug test that cost Team GB an Olympic 4x100m silver medal, because “sometimes these things happen”.
Hughes is looking for redemption himself this year after false starting in the Olympic 100m semi-finals. But after running a smooth 10.18 sec in the first round of the opening day of the British trials in Manchester, Hughes was in a magnanimous mood when asked about Ujah.
“CJ is a great guy, regardless,” said Hughes. “What happened to him is unfortunate, sadly. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time but, the last time I did he apologized and said sorry.”
Ujah tested positive for two banned drugs, which he says were in contaminated supplements. But his subsequent apology for him has been greeted very differently among his teammates.
Reece Prescod, who did not run the relay in Tokyo, has pledged to forgive Ujah. However Richard Kilty, who ran the third leg of the 4x100m at the Olympics, has called Prescod’s view “bullshit” and condemned Ujah for being so careless.
However Hughes insisted he was also prepared to forgive and forget when asked about his case in Manchester. “I forgive him,” he said. “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,” he added. “It’s already gone. We’ve been removed from the history books. It’s sad – but I can’t do anything about it.”
Hughes ran the joint-second quickest time in qualifying for Saturday’s semi-finals, behind Ojie Edoburun, who eased home in 10.13 sec.
Meanwhile Prescod, who is the favorite for the event, ran 10.22 despite making his usual sluggish start and trotting home. “It was comfortable but tomorrow I will have more fire,” he promised. Prescod also expressed his sympathy for British head coach Christian Malcolm, who discovered last week that his position on him was being lost in a UK Athletics restructure.
“I was upset because I like Christian a lot,” he said. “It is nice having a head coach who is a sprinter as well. Him and Darren Campbell were always helping me. “It will be upsetting if Christian isn’t around any more,” he added. “But I feel like in athletics and UKA there are so many changes, half the time you just stick to your team.”
Meanwhile in the women’s 100m, Daryll Neita and Dina Asher-Smith both looked hugely impressive as they qualified for the semi-finals in 11.04 and 11.16 sec respectively. It was on this track in Manchester a year ago that Asher-Smith suffered a hamstring tear that robbed her of a golden chance to win an Olympic medal. But there were no signs of nerves as she breezed to victory in her heat.
“The aim was to qualify, come back tomorrow and lift it a bit,” she said. I’m good, I’m excited, I’ve been wanting to do another 100m for a few weeks after Prefontaine [the Classic, in Oregon].
“I have got some stuff to work through, some more technical things I want to make sure I get right in these races ahead of the world championships.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism