Matt Hudson-Smith targets 400m Olympic gold after world championships near-miss


Matt Hudson-Smith has set his sights on gold at next year's Paris Olympics after coming up just short in last night's 400metre final.

Hudson-Smith has been hampered by Achilles tendinitis since April, to the extent that, at times, he could not walk, let alone run.

It resulted in him having to be escorted off the track in a wheelchair in his last race before these championships at London Stadium, which cast doubt over his participation in Budapest.

And he felt stiffness on the morning of the final, opting for a "do or die" approach in the race, going out fast but tying up late on and being caught by a fast-finishing Jamaican Antonio Watson in the final strides of the race.

A year ago, Hudson-Smith won world bronze and, in the immediate aftermath, revealed he had attempted suicide and also considered quitting athletics to become an electrician before being dissuaded by his mother and girlfriend.

Twelve months on, he has a silver to add to that previous bronze and, looking ahead to Paris next summer, he said: "I got a bronze last year, a silver this year and so next time gold. It's not over until I get the 43sec and the gold.

"Once I do that, I'll be happy. I'm almost there. Next year, we've got big plans. I've just got to stay healthy.

"That's the moral of my story in my career, but we're getting there. It's all about building consistency. Once I'm there, it will be 43sec and gold. I want the gold."

Hudson-Smith broke a 28-year-old European record in his semi-final in a time of 44.26sec, a run which the former doyen of the one-lap sprint, Michael Johnson, described as "flawless", but came up just shy of that new mark in the final.

The 28-year-old had been tight-lipped prior to the championships over the exact nature of his injury, merely saying he had been dealing with a niggle for much of 2023, before revealing the full extent of the problem in the aftermath of last night's final.

His treatment involved travelling to Germany to see the renowned specialist Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, who had treated Usain Bolt among others. When he first inspected the injury, the German doctor's reaction was reportedly, "Oh s**t".

Since then, Hudson-Smith has had constant physio treatment, has rested when possible and been wearing insoles to help soften the impact of the injury when running.

"It's been a topsy-turvy year," he added. "My Achilles has been mashed-up bad. I came for the gold but, under the circumstances, I can't complain.

"It was a weird injury. It's one of those ones where you need rest but, obviously, I'm in the middle of the season, so I can't really rest. I've got the best team in the world. They got me to the start line. They said you only need to be perfect for three days. I was almost perfect.

"I tried to find a gear, but that's what happens when you don't really have races. I found an extra gear in the semi-finals, but it's not there yet."

Despite the issue, Hudson-Smith insisted he would be fully ready to spearhead Britain's charge in the 4x400m relay, with the squad coached by his former rival Martyn Rooney. Hudson-Smith looks likely to be rested for tomorrow's heats and saved for Sunday's final.

Looking ahead to the championship finale, he said: "I'm going to finish off the season strong. I'm grateful, but I know there's more."