Matthew Hudson-Smith has struggled with mental health issues and injury and tried to commit suicide at his lowest ebb – now the British 400m star is targeting a Worlds medal after smashing the European record
- Matthew Hudson-Smith powered into Thursday’s 400m final in Budapest
- The one-lap specialist set a new European record with a time of 44.26 seconds
- The 28-year-old has spoken about his struggles with his mental health and injury
It was seven years before Matthew Hudson-Smith was even born that East German athlete Thomas Schonlebe set the European benchmark over 400metres.
Schonlebe’s time of 44.33 seconds at the 1987 World Championships in Rome had stood for 36 years, making it one of the most enduring records on the track.
But it was brought to an end in spectacular fashion by the Brit during Tuesday night’s semi-final.
Hudson-Smith’s time of 44.26 – recorded even after he deliberately slowed before crossing the line – leaves you wondering just what he could achieve in the final when medals are at stake.
‘My coach told me beforehand to enjoy it,’ Hudson-Smith revealed on Tuesday night. ‘He said “have you done this before?” and “do you feel like you deserve to be here?”
British 400m star Matthew Hudson-Smith is on track for a medal at the World Championships
‘I have worked too damn hard to not get to the final so I am really happy to have made it. It is all about getting that medal on Thursday.’
It is no surprise that’s now Hudson-Smith’s goal as he bids to add to the bronze he won over this distance at last year’s World Championships in Oregon.
That was his first Worlds medal and came only a year on from a dark period for Hudson-Smith which led him to attempt to take his own life at his lowest ebb.
There were questions over whether his ambitions at these Championships were both realistic and attainable. He has been suffering with a foot injury which he admitted was causing him significant pain, particularly around the bends.
In setting the joint-second quickest time in qualifying on Tuesday, Hudson-Smith answered those questions in emphatic fashion.
And now instead of wondering what he won’t be able to do, we are left dreaming of what the 28-year-old could achieve in the Hungarian capital.
Hudson-Smith smashed the European 400m record set by Thomas Schonlebe 36 years ago
His chances are no doubt helped by the plight of others. Bahamian Steve Gardiner, the pre-Championships favourite to claim gold, pulled up clutching the back of his leg in his heat and failed to qualify for the final.
Meanwhile, former Olympic and World champion Wayde van Niekerk scraped through to the final as one of the fastest losers after a sluggish display in his heat.
So perhaps the path to glory is opening up, then, for Hudson-Smith. Gardiner’s sorry tale is a warning that nothing is ever certain in the tumultuous world of track and field.
One moment can change it all. Hudson-Smith will hope tonight is the moment his life is transformed forever by becoming world champion.