British student sprinter Louie Hinchliffe shatters 10-second barrier in US

    Over 9.95 stunning seconds the British sprinter Louie Hinchliffe became the first European to win the men’s 100m at the United States’ National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships on Saturday. Afterwards the 21-year-old from Sheffield revealed how a WhatsApp message to the nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis asking him: “Can you fix me?” had changed his life.

    “I gave it everything, it’s what I’ve been working for the whole year,” said Hinchliffe after a late burst gave him victory in Eugene, Oregon, in a time that makes him the sixth-quickest Briton ever.

    But, as he acknowledged, it has been some journey given that until the age of 16 he wanted to be a professional golfer and that, when he went to the University of Lancaster to study management and IT at 18, he spent more time partying than running as there was no track nearby. “I would get on a bus twice a week, 30 minutes away, to train,” he said. “I didn’t have any support, I was just a regular student.”

    Winning the 2022 English championships earned him a sports scholarship at the University of Washington, where he continued to improve. But his great leap forward came last August after he managed to find the phone number of Lewis, the 1984 and 1988 Olympic 100m champion, among other titles, and a coach at the University of Houston.

    “I had a couple of problems with my hamstring and my back,” said Hinchliffe. “And I didn’t have much guidance. He was like: ‘Let’s talk.’ We had a long phone call and he saw a lot of potential in me.”

    That phone call led to Hinchliffe, who also ran a wind assisted 9.84sec last month, moving to Houston to study – and now to shatter the 10-second barrier. “It’s always been there. It’s finding the right place to do it, the right conditions and the right stadium,” he said.

    He is now set to compete at the UK championships in Manchester at the end of this month, which act as the British trials for this summer’s Paris Olympics. “I’ve got to forget about this, because the main job is to get to the Olympics,” he says.

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    Lewis, for one, has every confidence he will make it. “He’s going to be a great,” he says of Hinchliffe. “He’s going to be in the Olympics this year, I know he will make that team.”

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