“Bolt has given me a few pearls of wisdom”: An interview with Adam Gemili

09:00 27 July 2012

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Last month the nation gasped in collective awe as a former Dartford schoolboy ran 100m faster than it takes most people to walk across their lounge.

In just 10.08 seconds, 18-year-old Adam Gemili changed his life forever by securing himself a place in sporting history as an Olympian.

And two weeks ago in Barcelona, the former Dartford Grammar pupil was at it again – knocking another 0.03 seconds off his previous best and clinching gold at the junior World Championships.

To reach such a blistering pace at such a young age has caught the attention of the nation’s media – putting Team GB’s Gemili in the spotlight for what is arguably the most eagerly anticipated event at the London Games.

Despite his new-found fame, the laid-back college student is taking all the attention in his stride – revealing that it’s his family, not his spikes, that keep his feet firmly rooted to the ground.

Adam Gemili after he qualifies for the  olympics  during the Aviva UK Trials and Championships at the Alexander Stadium, BirminghamAdam Gemili after he qualifies for the olympics during the Aviva UK Trials and Championships at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham

He said: “The support I have from my parents, sister and my coach is great.

“It’s key for keeping me grounded and making sure I stay focused on the right things and not get carried away.

“I went into my local newsagent last week and they recognised me and asked for a picture. It’s weird people suddenly know me.

“A lot of very talented athletes might not have had the same support from their family in the past when they were breaking through and maybe their careers have not been as successful as they might have been. I feel very lucky to have their support.”

His ability to withstand the increasing pressure of a hopeful nation has been lauded by Pat Calnan, of the Blackheath and Bromley Harriers, where Adam has been intensely training four times a week.

Pat said: “He seems to be handling the pressure amazingly well – he doesn’t look like he is under any stress on the start line.

“He is a very ordinary guy. He has no airs and graces. I’m sure he will enjoy it and give a good account of himself – he’s more than capable of getting another personal best.

“He joined us in April last year and he has progressed a huge amount. He was fast to begin with, but with some proper coaching he can only get faster.”

Running 100m faster than it takes to boil a kettle or pour a pint of beer, Adam recalled his Olympic trial triumph: “I was jumping up and down and looked straight for my parents in the crowd. My mum was crying. It was an incredible moment.

“I was just determined to go out and enjoy the trials. The Olympics only come around every four years and obviously it’s a home Games, so I thought I might as well try and give it everything – even just for the experience of competing among that calibre of athletes.”

Now the poster boy of British athletics faces the exciting prospect of donning the red, white and blue to set himself in the starting blocks alongside the world’s fastest man – Jamaica’s Usain Bolt.

However, he sees it as an opportunity to relish rather than one to fear: “Competing against sprinting legend Usain Bolt at the Olympics would be a once in-a-lifetime experience. Bolt has given me a few pearls of wisdom, he told me to prepare mentally as well as physically.”

A prolific tweeter, Adam often sends out short 140-character bursts that reveal his excitement in a shorter space of time than even he can complete a race.

After his junior World Championship win, he described himself as “the happiest guy in the world” – a message the nation will hope to see again in the coming weeks.


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