ZHARNEL HUGHES has become the fastest man alive in 2023 with the help of Usain Bolt.
But the Team GB star once needed to use his pace to outrun a shooter but now wants to be a pilot.
The 27-year-old completed the 100m in 9.83 seconds that year, beating the 30-year record held by Olympic legend Linford Christie, making him Britain’s fastest-ever sprinter.
That period was also their best yet in 2023 and now Hughes carries the hopes of Great Britain on his shoulders as he heads to the World Championships in Budapest.
Though he still hasn’t matched Bolt’s 2009 world record of 9.58 seconds, he trains under legendary trainer Glen Mills, who guided the Jamaican to his eight Olympic gold medals.
Though Bolt is retired, he remains a regular at the Jamaica facility and Hughes is delighted to be so close to the superstar.
He told that telegraph: “Usain is someone I’ve always looked up to. Every time we see each other at the gym because he goes to the same gym as me we always bump our fists and wonder how we’re doing.
“It’s just a great privilege to be in the same company that he once was.”
However, in 2018 in Bolt’s home country of Jamaica, Hughes also had a near-death experience with an armed robber in the parking lot of the training base.
Hughes said: “I was standing in the trunk of my car, putting on my sneakers and I saw this shadow in front of me. Then this guy asks me for my phone and wallet.
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“I thought, ‘What?’ and then I see his gun. Then it’s like, “Okay, is this actually happening to me?”
“It was one of those panic situations. The gun is aimed at my stomach and my face and then I only got the smallest window because, I don’t know, he looked away for a second. I took my chance.
“I just jumped down and hid under a car. Then someone else, a licensed firearms owner, came and shot him back.
“There was an exchange of gunfire and the guy ran off firing wild shots everywhere. Other athletes jumped down.
“When it was over, I got out and saw that they were lying in the gravel under the benches. There was a girl who used the train and had an asthma attack.
“I went to my car and sat there and I was like, ‘What was that?’ It all only took a few seconds but wow.”
Amazingly, Hughes was back on track within half an hour of this horrific ordeal, showing his undying passion for the sport, but he also has another career goal that he would like to put into action in the future.
In his spare time he practices flying airplanes on the flight simulator and would like to become a pilot one day.
Hughes added: “That’s what makes me happy, that’s what relaxes me.
“I would like to fly a Gulfstream 650. It’s a beautiful plane.”