(THE ANGUILLIAN) — Still highly-excited by his sterling performance in the European Championships in Berlin on August 8 and 12, Anguilla Government officials and many members of the public gave the island’s international athlete, Zharnel Hughes, a tremendous welcome on Wednesday afternoon, September 5.
The young athlete, who has already carved out a comfortable and highly respected place for himself in world athletics, won the 100 meter and the 4×100 meter gold medals while competing for Great Britain.
“It was an awesome achievement,” he told The Anguillian newspaper when he arrived and was welcomed at the Blowing Point Ferry Terminal. “It was something that was set out for me earlier in the year and to see that it actually came to pass was one of those real moments I was working towards. I was really grateful that I was able to accomplish my goals”
Wearing the coveted medals around his neck, Zharnel was officially welcomed by Chief Minister, Victor Banks, Governor Tim Foy, OBE and Director of Sports, Mr. Andre Collins, the latter of whom chaired the proceedings.
“We, the people of Anguilla, are very proud of Zharnel’s achievements,” said Mr. Banks. “Of course, his achievements began with the family that raised him in the community and island from which he came. We believe that he has achieved these things not only for himself but for Anguilla and the young people who are aspiring to participate in all aspects of life and in all kinds of endeavours. It doesn’t have to be in athletics, but they need to know that as Anguillian young people, they can reach higher heights. Zharnel not only represents Anguilla; he represents UK and Europe as well as Jamaica. We are not greedy about sharing him as we know he has roots and connections. I know that his family are proud of him and we have to share in their pride as well. We are happy to know that he has come back home for a short visit and while he is here, let us make him feel welcome and appreciated.”
Governor Foy told Zharnel: “You are a source of great pride to Anguilla and indeed to Great Britain. Congratulations for that. You are really an inspiration to young people. I was at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Everybody, not just the Anguillian team, but all the Caribbean teams, were looking towards Zharnel Hughes. They could see one of their own reaching the great heights and well done to you. That is a heavy burden you carry in showing and leading the way for young people.”
The Governor took the opportunity to pay tribute to everyone, including the unsung heroes, who assisted Zharnel in his sporting career. Governor Foy added: “Finally, I have one job for you to do. It is that you are going to help me to get the Brits to put a track on Anguilla.”
Parliamentary Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs, Mr. Cardigan Connor, joined in congratulating Zharnel for winning the European Championships and presented him with a glass plaque from the Department of Sports. The inscription read: “To Zharnel Hughes in recognition of your accomplishments as the 100 meter and 4×100 2018 European Athletics Champion. Congratulations. Keep making us proud.”
Replying, Zharnel thanked everybody for the huge welcome he received and said he was proud of his accomplishments which he saw as an example to other young Anguillians. He urged the island’s youth to set goals for themselves and to make every effort to accomplish them. Aside from his sporting career, he disclosed that he had recently qualified as a private pilot in Jamaica where he is doing his athletic training. That, he said, was another example to Anguillian young people to set and aspire to positive and rewarding goals in life.
Meanwhile, a special welcome and presentation ceremony was held at the South Valley Roundabout for Zharnel. The event was organised by the Customs Department and The South Valley Community.