Hughes a world champ

Lo­cal sprinter claims bronze in 400 me­tre world masters games

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY CAM POT­TER cpot­ter@ne­me­

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.

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