Hughes a world champ
Local sprinter claims bronze in 400 metre world masters games
IS there a better way to spend your long service leave than to participate in the World Masters Games in Southern Spain?
That is how 50-year-old sprinter Paul Hughes (pictured) and long-time Thales employee spent his leave and he has two medals from four events to show for it.
The Greg O’Keefe trained 400 metre specialist entered the 100 metre, 200 metre and 400 metre events in the 50-55 year old age group and also took part in the winning 50-55 year old 4 x 400 metre relay Australian team.
Competing in Malaga, Spain from September 4 to 16 with over 8000 athletes, Hughes ran third in his heat of the 100 metres, ran third in the 200 metre semi final, before winning his 400 metre heat and semi final to qualify for the final.
“I have never been sharp enough over the 100,” Hughes said.
“I missed out on the final of the 200 by one place.
“It was hot and pretty humid conditions the whole time we were there.”
“The fields in the men’s 50 metre sprint events there was over 100 competitors; most of which were ex-Olympian.”
Hughes entered the final of the 400 metres in winning form and ran third with a time of 53.42, just 0.7 seconds behind the winner.
“I had heavy legs,” Hughes said.
“I like to run the first bit of the race really hard and I led coming into the final straight but I just couldn’t keep it up; I had spent too much too early.
“It was round about a personal best time; as a pro runner it’s the first time I’ve run against a clock for a while; PBs are something new after I turned 50.
“The heat, semi and the final were held over four days so we had good spacing between races.”
Hughes, a Victorian record holder over the 400 metres, and the Australian team finished third in the 4x100 metre event, but the best was yet to come for the Wangaratta local.
In a time of three minutes, 37 seconds the Australian 4 x 400 metre team stormed home to win by almost three seconds from America and Great Britain in an epic performance.
“It was great to win,” Hughes said.
“I was really excited afterwards; it was tough competition.”
Following the relays Hughes then travelled to the Pyrenees, mountain biking and enjoying the Spanish sun before returning home last Thursday.
“I really want to thank Greg (O’Keefe) for all his help as well; he trains us for nothing and he prepares us so well,” Hughes said.
WORLD CHAMPION: Wangaratta sprinter Paul Hughes (right) has returned from Spain with two medals; a bronze for coming third in the 50-55 year old men’s 400 metres (pictured) and a gold for winning the 4x400m men’s 50-55 year old relay event.