Zharnel Hughes is expecting big things at 2024 European Athletics Championships

Britain's Zharnel Hughes in action

Zharnel Hughes believes his lightning-fast start to the season has set him up perfectly to reclaim his European 100m crown.

The 28-year-old ran a 19.96 to open his year in the 200m at the recent Jamaica Athletics Invitational, beating high-profile Americans Fred Kerley and Christian Coleman in the process.

Add that to a rapid 14.66 over 150m at the Atlanta City Games and it appears the sprint star is setting himself up for even more success when he drops another 50m in Rome on June 8.

Hughes' flying form has also trickled down to his training and the 28-year-old now has all eyes on the Italian capital.

"I feel like there are great things on the horizon for me," he said.

"I need to contain composure. I don't have a specific time in my head that I want to run at the Europeans, I just want to go there and win.

"I'm really enjoying myself right now. I opened up my season with the fastest opener I've ever had in May, so I think the summer will be very exciting.

"It's looking very good and I'm very happy with how things are starting to trickle down. I've been hitting some pretty good times in training and it's all about putting it together in a race now.

"I'm looking forward to getting the confidence that I need leading into the Olympics."

Hughes will face stiff competition from home hero Lamont Marcell Jacobs in Rome, with the Italian pipping Hughes to the line at the 2022 event.

But Hughes, who will not defend his 200m title to focus on the shorter distance, is already dreaming of silencing the home fans at the Stadio Olimpico and regaining the crown he won in 2018.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to it and I know it will be thrilling because it's in Rome and the Italians are proud people.

"The competition will be electrifying and I'm looking forward to being a part of that.

"I know that Marcell will have the home crowd behind him, and I recently saw a clip of him running in Rome, so I can see how much of a hero he is.

"I would love to go there and cause an upset which would be exciting.

"But there's going to be a good line-up, there are a couple of others who are really fast as well, and you don't want to leave anyone out."

Hughes is keeping his mind sharp and relaxed in the lead-up to the competition, falling back on his love of aviation to calm his nerves.

The Brit has made his love of planes and flying no secret in recent years and believes there is more in common between his hobby and his job than may be anticipated.

"Flying just keeps my mind relaxed and it helps me not focus so much on track all the time," he said.

"There are a few little similarities between the two though. Different approaches can be difficult so you might have to change how you set up.

"And sometimes I'm running so fast that I do feel like I'm flying.

"When you're running extremely quickly, everything is a blur, and you can feel the tears on your face. It almost feels like you're hovering off the ground.

"It's almost the same as when I'm in the simulator - I just wish I had as much power on the track as I do in the plane."

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