GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - England sprinter Zharnel Hughes said he had no choice but to accept the decision that robbed him of 200 metres gold at the Commonwealth Games, adding that making contact with rival Jereem Richards had been an accident.
Hughes and Trinidad and Tobago’s Richards were awarded the same time (20.12 seconds) in the half lap sprint on Thursday night with the Englishman taking gold by a nose after a photo finish.
The 22-year-old had completed his lap of honour before he was informed that he had been scratched from the race for catching a surging Richards with his arm as the pair raced towards the line in neighbouring lanes.
England later lodged an appeal against the ruling but it was dismissed.
“I have to live with it,” Hughes said on Friday after helping England into the final of the 4x100m relay.
“It was a bit of a nightmare, but it wasn’t intentional. I felt something hit me in the back and after the race, Jereem hugged me and said ‘hey man, I am sorry for hitting your arm’.”
Richards, who was subsequently awarded the gold, said after the race he felt his surge to the line had been impeded by the flailing arm.
He will not get a chance to go for a second sprint gold in the relay, however, after his compatriots in the Trinidad and Tobago team dropped the baton in heat one on Friday.
England qualified fastest in 38.15 seconds, beating reigning champions Jamaica into second place in heat two and Hughes, who ran the second leg, said he had been able to recover quickly from Thursday’s disappointment with the help of his team mates.
“I’m okay,” he said. “We have great team spirit and the guys have been very supportive and I wanted to do my best for them. I had to stay focused. It was important that we got into the final. The job had to be done.
“We have strong heads and we all want something from the Commonwealth Games. The guys have been very supportive and I will now do my best to get a medal.”
Former world champion Yohan Blake warned that the Jamaicans were determined to fire in Saturday’s final and retain the title Usain Bolt helped them win in Glasgow four years ago.
“The boys ran well and now we’re looking forward to the final and trying to get the gold medal,” said the 28-year-old, who finished third as overwhelming favourite in the individual blue riband sprint.
“I am really motivated because I was supposed to run easily in the 100 but I stomped it.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly