Express & Star

Wolverhampton's Matt Hudson-Smith gunning for win at home games

Having grown up in the Black Country and called the Alexander Stadium his home track, Matthew Hudson-Smith sees the Commonwealth Games as his version of London 2012.


The 400m ace is ready to go for glory having battled through difficult times and returned to top form ahead of a Games that really taps into his roots.

Hudson-Smith, although based across in the pond in Florida these days, is very much Black Country born and bred.

He lived in both Bilston and Whitmore Reans as a youngster and still boasts family in the Wolverhampton area.

Before becoming a supreme athlete, he would often tuck into a bag of chips from the Newbridge Chippy and played junior Sunday league football for Warstones.

Most notably ahead of the Games, he knows the Alexander Stadium as good as anybody.

The ground itself, of course, has undergone an extensive renovation for Birmingham 2022 and now boasts more than 30,000 seats.

Hudson-Smith, though, still knows plenty of people there and had the ideal preparation as he won at the new-look stadium in May's Diamond League meeting.

It is a homecoming the 27-year-old is determined to make the most of.

"I'm definitely not here to just be a spectator at the Commonwealths," said Hudson-Smith.

"I'm here to compete and win, in front of friends and family.

"It's definitely a big priority for me. Don't get me wrong, any championship is a big priority, but I remember talking to a lot of the athletes about London 2012, and how it was so good and motivating for them.

"They wanted to train harder and do it in front of all their families in London. So, this is like my 2012 almost.

"As soon as I found it was Birmingham, I was like 'OK, that's a good one'.

"I went to Castlecroft Primary School and then St Peters.

"My family are around the Whitmore Reans area – Tettenhall and Whitmore Reans.

"We lived in Bilston for a bit growing up and my mom is still in Wolverhampton.

"I used to go in the Newbridge Chippy all the time and played football for Warstones.

"I was one of the mainstays. It was always us against Bilbrook, so it was good times.

"With this being at Alexander Stadium as well, it's literally on my doorstep.

"This is basically my London 2012 and I'm looking to make it a special one."

Hudson-Smith has previous success at the Commonwealths to draw upon.

He was part of the gold medal-winning 4x400m relay team in Glasgow in 2014, producing a storming final leg.

Recounting that experience, Hudson-Smith said: "Nothing is ever going to replicate a gold. Winning is the best feeling in the world, really.

"When you're on the podium for the national anthem, it's something words can't really describe.

"Whether it's individual or relay, winning in any sport or any event tops everything."

Successes like those did dry up for a while, though, thanks to a succession of injury issues.

Hudson-Smith's quest at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 was curtailed by injury.

A European Championship triumph came later that year but a hamstring issue picked up at the 2019 World Championships came before he missed the Tokyo Olympics on medical grounds.

This year, however, has seen Hudson-Smith return to prominence.

He won at the Alexander Stadium and then went on to set a new British 400m record – beating Iwan Thomas’ 25-year record by 0.01 seconds as he ran 44.35secs at the Diamond League in Eugene.

In the wake of achieving that major feat, he respectfully insisted times were 'irrelevant' and medals are what truly matter.

There is expectation on Hudson-Smith going into these Games, and he is not shying away from that.

He is looking forward to the pressure of building on a successful year so far and shining with his family and friends in the stands.

"It's going to be very interesting. It'll be fun," added Hudson-Smith.

"I'm just really looking forward to that balancing act and adding these new aspects to my career.

"You have to be robotic almost and learn to deal with certain aspects.

"There's pretty much nothing I haven't seen in the sport now.

"I understand the sport and I know what's coming.

"Not a lot of athletes can say they've been through training for a home Games.

"I'm using this experience as something to add to the whole cabinet."