The European 200m champion will compete over the distance at Rio 2016 after booking his place at the British Championships
Adam Gemili says he’s ready to do Great Britain proud at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer when he steps on the start line to run the 200m as he fights for a podium place.
The 22-year-old took the national title over the half-lap in Birmingham on Sunday, running a second Olympic qualifying time of 20.44 in the process to guarantee himself selection by British Athletics, little over a year after suffering a hamstring tear in the Diamond League in the same stadium which ruled him out for the remainder of 2015.
Four years ago a fresh-faced Gemili took second behind Dwain Chambers in the 100m to qualify for the London Games – his first British senior vest – and he has since matured into one of GB’s most reliable championship performers with a European 200m gold, Commonwealth 100m silver and a fifth-placed finish in the 200m at the 2013 World Championships final to show for his development.
Still the same gregarious athlete who burst on to the senior scene in such astonishing fashion just four years ago, Gemili has the added steel and determination of a race-hardened, experienced athlete confident of his status among the world’s best. And he’s looking to prove this again in Rio.
“I am aiming for a medal now – I have to. This is my job now and this is what I’m doing. Anything less than a medal I will feel I’ve not done what I can do. It’s going to be very competitive but I believe I can do it,” said Gemili, who will also run the 100m at the European Championships in Amsterdam as preparation for the Olympics.
“No matter what I run in any race before, what matters is what happens at the trials and the championships. I will always get it right for the championships. I’ve had a tough road to this point and a lot of injuries but my team – coach Steve Fudge, therapist James Davies and the British Athletics sport science team – have put me in a good place.
“I get it right when it matters. The champs is the place to do that. The Europeans and Olympics coming up, I want to go there and show my best to do Britain proud.”
Danny Talbot, Britain’s fourth fastest 200m runner in 2016, finished runner-up to Gemili at the Olympic trials, also confirming his place in Team GB, but the third and final place in the team is far from certain.
Neil Black, the British Athletics performance director, all but confirmed the third spot will be a straight shootout between Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Zharnel Hughes – Britain’s second and fourth fastest over the distance of all-time – after the pair, who have personal bests of 19.95 and 20.02 respectively, were selected to run at the Euros from July 6-10, and Gemili expects the decision to be a tricky one for the selectors.
“Rather them than me,” he added. “I’m just glad I booked my place. I wanted to do that automatically. If I didn’t it would have been a very, very tough selection for everyone. I know those guys aren’t 100% fit, yet they can fly as well. It’s a tough one for the selectors but, for me, I’ve qualified. That’s what I’m happy about.”
A delayed start to Gemili’s season as a result of minor injuries has left him playing catch-up as he looks to rediscover the form which took him to his first sub-10 100m clocking last year (9.97) and his first global senior title over the 200m in Zurich (19.98) two years ago.
Prior to his first run over the 200m in 2016 little over two weeks ago, Gemili’s last outing over the distance was that golden night in Switzerland in 2014, but the Blackheath & Bromley sprinter says he never had any doubt over his choice for 2016.
“Where my 200 is at and where I’ve been I want to go out there and put my best in one event,” Gemili said. “I don’t want to spread myself thin. If I went for the 100 and 200 I have to be at a different level of fitness.
“I want to walk away with a medal. At the moment the best chance to do that is in the 200m. As I do get a bit older and more experienced and a bit faster I can go and medal in the 100m. But now it’s about going back and preparing for the 200m.”