World Championships 2023: Matthew Hudson-Smith has ‘big plans’ after winning silver

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Warning: This article contains a reference to suicide

World bronze last year. Silver this year. Matthew Hudson-Smith is certain about what must come next.

The 28-year-old finished an agonising 0.09 seconds short of a first global title as Jamaica’s Antonio Watson pipped him to the gold he had set out to achieve in Budapest.

The Briton had led until the final 30 metres in a brave performance, giving his all in pursuit of the title he believed he was capable of after posting a European record in the semi-finals.

After a moment of contemplation as he crouched on the track, the big screen displaying with ruthless directness how close he had come, his mind turned to ensuring that next time it would be different.

“I came here looking for gold,” said Hudson-Smith, whose next major target is the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“You are never satisfied, you’re always going to want more. I’m grateful but I know there’s more.

“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.

“I got a bronze last year, I got a silver this year – so next time, gold.”

While it was not to be on this occasion, silver represents the latest remarkable achievement in Hudson-Smith’s career, given the physical and mental struggles he has endured.

This year, Achilles tendonitisexternal-link had threatened to derail his medal bid, leaving him unable to walk at times. At the London Diamond League in July, he had to be helped off the track in a wheelchair.

But pushing on despite the pain is something Hudson-Smith knows about.

Before his bronze in Oregon 12 months ago, he endured three years of what he described as “absolute hell” which, at his lowest moment, led Hudson-Smith to attempt suicide.

Injury wrecked his chance to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. It was another huge setback after a series of physical issues that led him to accrue substantial debt due to medical costs and the loss of sponsors.

Isolated from his family and friends in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic, having moved from Birmingham for training, he reached breaking point.

He has emerged from the darkest period of his life to make two global podiums.

“It’s been a topsy-turvy year,” Hudson-Smith reflected.

“I’ve had Achilles tendonitis really badly so that’s why I’ve been pulling up, that’s why I’ve been in a wheelchair in London. Sometimes I can’t walk.

“My Achilles has been mashed up bad. This has been like a mental battle.”

“I came for the gold, tied up [in the] last 30 metres, but under the circumstances I can’t complain.

“I tried to find another gear but that’s what happens when you don’t really have races.”

The course of Hudson-Smith’s life changed in 2014. Then working at a supermarket, he seized his chance after receiving a late call-up to the Glasgow Diamond League and ran under 45 seconds for the first time – setting the 11th-fastest time that year.

He went on to display his potential by winning European silver at the age of 19 and has taken two continental titles since.

But he has made no secret of the fact that he had travelled to Budapest to stand on top of the world podium, dismissing talk around his record semi-final performance – which broke a 36-year mark – to focus solely on his medal mission.

“Matt really believed in his abilities. He put himself in the best position,” two-time world champion Colin Jackson said on BBC TV.

“He said the final home straight was all about his heart. This young man put his heart and soul there to try and hang on and take the title.

“He should not be at all disappointed with that.”

Denise Lewis added: “He broke the European record on an injured Achilles tendon. It’s just remarkable that he managed to do that. He left everything out on the track.

“He can’t be too disappointed because it was just fantastic to get another medal at this stage.”

Hudson-Smith will leave Budapest with a silver medal. But his eyes are firmly trained on the Paris podium – and that elusive gold medal.

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