Despite being a non-stereotypical sprinter Adam Gemili has come a long way quickly and he spoke to AW about his sizzling summer
Adam Gemili has made a huge impression on the sprint scene in the last few years, having only recently trained seriously after previously focusing on a football career.
The 20-year-old does not look like one of the world’s top sprinters up close. He speaks to AW during his role as guest starter for Nike’s Run to the Beat race in Greenwich Park and, dressed in casual clothes, he looks more like a typical half-marathon runner than the world’s most exciting teenage sprint talent.
He’s less than 6ft tall and, while fairly muscular, is dwarfed in size and stature by most of the top Jamaicans and Americans. He also seems non-egotistical, modest, amicable, pleasant and cheerful which are adjectives not always thought of with the typical sprinter.
The important thing, though, is that he is fast despite an unusual background and very little athletics training so far.
His first full season of training in 2012 was impressive enough when, as a junior, he came close to making the Olympic final and won the world junior title. However, his impact in 2013 thanks to his run at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow has propelled him to such a level that Nike can happily have him as the big name for their flagship UK running event.
Probably the most amazing thing about his 2013 season is that he went from fourth in the 200m at the European Under-23 Championships in July to a month later being the fastest European of the year at any age, with a fifth in the World Championship 200m final and a sensational 19.98 semi-final clocking that only John Regis has bettered among Brits.
“I was in shock going over the line and seeing the time,” the Blackheath & Bromley Harrier said of his semi-final run at the time. ”I was looking around and I didn’t quite realise it was me that had won it until I looked up on the big screen. It was the best thing in the world, absolutely amazing.”
From being hopeful of making the final, that 19.98 propelled him to an excellent medal chance, and as second fastest from the semi-finals, he gained one of the seedings among the middle lanes beside Usain Bolt. He couldn’t quite match the semi time or indeed snatch a medal, but he was in the battle for bronze throughout and fell narrowly short with a 20.08 clocking, meaning he had run his three fastest times in Moscow in just two days.
“Bolt flew past me with his legs up past my shoulders but at 150m I was in line with the others fighting for a medal”
“It was an unbelievable experience to be in that final on the outside of Usain Bolt and just being in the top eight and finishing fifth,” he told AW.
“I’m just very proud, very happy and very grateful. Just after Bolt was introduced, the whole stadium erupted and I thought one day hopefully I’ll be in that position and it put a smile on my face and helped me stay relaxed.
“I knew I had a chance as my flat 100m speed compared well to the other finalists,” he added. “Bolt flew past me with his legs up past my shoulders but at 150m I was in line with the others fighting for a medal and I was very close.
“I missed out by just four hundredths. But as I get older and stronger that will hopefully come down and down. Hopefully I’ll be up there getting a medal in future years and I can get closer and closer to Bolt and then maybe even beat him.”
On the subject of future plans, he added: “I begin training in October and I want to do the Europeans and Commonwealths next year and I hope to get quicker and quicker and ultimately have a long successful career and Rio is the main goal as I will only be 22.”
And on a day when he is surrounded by runners tackling the 13.1 miles of the Run to the Beat half marathon, can he ever see himself increasing the mileage and switching the track for the road?
“I tend to do speed and endurance work for the 200m and I did a lot of work on the bend trying to work on my tactics for the event,” he said of his training schedule. “In the winter, I tend to do some longer runs of up to 4km when I get back early winter and sometimes would do up to 400m on the track.
“After finishing sprinting, I might do a half-marathon and one day I’d like to run a marathon.”
» Adam Gemili was speaking at Run to the Beat powered by Nike+, where he encouraged runners to #JustDoIt and reach their goal. Set your next goal with Nike+ by visiting nike. com/justdoit