The Resident meets Blackheath & Bromley Harriers Athletics Club member Adam Gemili on his #RoadToRio. The south east London sprinter talks about his experience at London 2012, targeting medals at this summer’s Rio Olympics and precious time off spent in Greenwich
Words: Andy Greeves
Despite being just 18 years of age when London hosted the Olympic Games back in 2012, Southwark-born sprinter Adam Gemili had done more than enough to earn his inclusion in the Team GB squad for the Games. The youngster had won silver medals in the 100m and 4x100m in the European Junior Championships the year before prior to winning gold in the 100m at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships.
‘Aside from my age, what made it so special for me to go to the Olympics in 2012 was that I’d only really started to focus on the sport full-time at that stage,’ reflects Gemili, who had been a professional footballer with Dagenham & Redbridge earlier that year. ‘I had hardly trained really… I’ve put so much work in for Rio and I only did a fraction of that for London.’
While London 2012 was very much about the experience for Gemili, who ran in the 100m and 4x100m events, four years on the Rio Olympics represent the opportunity to win medals. ‘The mindset going to Rio is definitely medals,’ confirms Gemili, who is likely to compete in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay events in Brazil. ‘This is my job now and the aim has to be to get to the top, so I want to be coming back from Rio with at least one medal around my neck.’
The sprinter’s prospects of winning medals certainly look promising. Since London 2012, he has become the first Brit ever to run sub-10 seconds for 100m and sub-20 for 200m. He collected two golds at the European Championships in 2014 in the 200m and 4x100m events, while he also bagged two silvers in the 100m and 4x100m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow that same year.
‘I feel very fortunate to have medalled in senior events such as the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games and to rank in the top 20, top 10 etc,’ he says. ‘The competition for a place in the team is hard enough given the quality of sprinters in this country. At the Olympics, the Jamaicans and Americans are obviously the big favourites for the sprint events, but I have to believe I can get on that podium.’
At the Olympics, the Jamaicans and Americans are obviously the big favourites for the sprint events, but I have to believe I can get on that podium
Few that have charted Gemili’s meteoric rise-and-rise in athletics would rule out his medal chances. For him to be a world-class athlete aged 22 seems incredible considering that he started out in the sport just six years ago.
‘I joined Dartford Harriers when I was 16 and then started training at Blackheath & Bromley Harriers Athletics Club when I was 17,’ explains Gemili. ‘Blackheath & Bromley have done so much for me and have supported me so extensively in everything that I’ve done. I’m always proud to represent them.’
While he still runs at events for Blackheath & Bromley, Gemili trains full-time in Loughborough, returning ‘home’ to south London and Kent as often as he can with friends and family in the area.
When I get the luxury of some spare time, I like to go to Greenwich. Walking by the river, having a picnic in Greenwich Park and just chilling out in the area
‘When I get the luxury of some spare time, I like to go to Greenwich,’ he adds. ‘Walking by the river, having a picnic in Greenwich Park and just chilling out in the area… that’s nice. I like catching the train into central London too and walking along the South Bank.’
Spare time, though, is at a premium today with Rio just around the corner. But it seems, for someone who only really burst onto the scene four years ago, that Adam Gemili has certainly come of age.
For more information on Great Britain’s athletes and para-athletes on the #RoadToRio see britishathletics.org.uk
- James Ellington: 200m and 4 x 100m, was born in Lewisham
- Shannon Hylton: 4 x 400m relay, lives in Mottingham and trains at Blackheath & Bromley
- Dina Asher-Smith: 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay, lives in Orpington and trains at Blackheath & Bromley
- Lorraine Ugen: long jump, trains at Blackheath & Bromley
- Serita Solomon: 100m hurdles, born in Bromley and trains at Crystal Palace
- Conrad Williams: 4 x 400m relay, lives in Beckenham
- Daryll Neita: 4 x 400m relay, born in Camberwell
- Paul Sanchez Lethem: para-fencing, from Brixton