Hudson-Smith retains European title to banish Commonwealth demons

·3-min read
Hudson-Smith, 27, clocked 44.53s to beat Swiss star Ricky Petrucciani as British teammate Alex Haydock-Wilson bagged a surprise bronze. (Daniel Kopatsch / Munich2022)

By Will Jennings in Munich

Matt Hudson-Smith believes he has finally banished his Commonwealth Games demons after brilliantly defending his European 400m title in Munich.

The former Loughborough College student clocked 44.53s to beat Swiss star Ricky Petrucciani as British teammate Alex Haydock-Wilson bagged a surprise bronze.

Hudson-Smith, 27, won World Championship bronze in Oregon before being denied a hometown Commonwealth title in Birmingham by Zambian underdog Muzala Samukonga.

But he emphatically turned the tables last night as a lightning turn of pace off the final bend proved too hot for Petrucciani to handle and capped a searing season.

Hudson-Smith said: "The Commonwealths were a big low but this feels good.

"It was a controlled run, I knew the mistakes I made at the Commonwealths and I said to the BBC I would never make that mistake again.

“I knew where the mistakes were. I was more annoyed at the execution than the result and today was all about that.

“It was a lesson learned and I came away with the gold today. I was way more emotional in Eugene but now it is all expectation.

"I wanted to wind it up and try and be calculated, try and go for the gold. I think people thought I’d go out absolutely blazing on the backstraight, so I used them and I controlled it and wound it up."

Haydock-Wilson, 23, ran a massive race in his maiden European final to haul himself onto the podium by the barest of margins.

Just eight thousandths of a second proved the difference between him and Dutch star Liemarvin Bonevacia on a turbulent night for British men’s sprinting at Munich’s Olympic Stadium.

Hudson-Smith was stunned after Samukonga, 19, produced a remarkable display to lower his colours at the Alexander Stadium and leave the crowd in disbelief.

Muzala was sick after crossing the line after emptying everything he had in the tank to inflict a hammer blow on Hudson-Smith’s long-term dream.

But the West Midlands star resiliently recovered from that setback to be crowned the fastest man in Europe over 400m once again on Wednesday night.

After waltzing through his heats on Tuesday morning, he ran a mature and intelligent race that saw him hit the accelerator during the final 150m and win by a comfortable distance.

It’s been a manic month for everyone in Hudson-Smith’s close circle and he admits he couldn’t have done it without them after an emotional evening in Munich.

“I have a great team around me, a great team of people,” he added.

“Everyone has contributed in a different way. I talk a lot about my family and friends but I wouldn't be here without them.

“I want to say a big thanks to them and I am quite stressful, I won't lie.

“But I try to repay them out here with good performances."

The multi-sport European Championships Munich 2022, featuring Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, Sport Climbing, takes place 11th-21st August on the 50th anniversary of the Olympics Games in the German city. Watch daily live coverage across BBC One, Two, Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website