It’s all still a surprise for Dartford sprinter Adam Gemili

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Dartford days not a distant memory

Just a few years ago Adam Gemili fell over as he crossed the finishing line because his technique was a bit rusty - mind you he still won the race.

But it’s a reminder of just how far he has come on his journey to Gold at the World Junior Championships.

It’s a story being regularly told at Dartford Grammar School where Gemili spent his teenage years.

“It wasn’t until Year 10 that he began to realise he was half decent at it,” recalls head of sport at the school Gary Jones.

“I really noticed when he won the regional athletics finals, he fell at the finish line because his technique was a bit untidy. He fell flat on his face and injured himself, he was supposed to do the long jump later that day.”

Even a few years earlier he stuck out like a saw thumb in the school sports day.

“The thing that sticks in my mind is I said to the head teacher, ‘watch this, this will be something special’.

“He was racing against two other lads from football clubs who were both fantastically fast, but he obliterated them, absolutely destroyed them.”

Gemili joined Blackheath and Bromley AC as he began to take the sport more seriously.

Men’s team manager at the club Patrick Calnan said: “It’s remarkable the progress he’s made in such a short space of time.

“It’s often said that footballers are not as fit as athletes, but you couldn’t really say that about him when he joined.

“When I saw him run for the first time it was just raw talent.”

A lot can change in a year, just ask British sprinting sensation Adam Gemili.

A little over 12 months ago the Dartford teenager was scraping the dried mud off his boots getting ready for some hard running in pre-season training with Dagenham & Redbridge.

Now he is a week away from starring in the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet having taken the 100m by storm in the last two months - culminating in a gold-medal winning run in the World Junior Championships in Barcelona last week.

That run also made him the fastest ever Brit for his age, beating Dwain Chambers’ 15 year record of 10.06.

The 18-year-old Blackheath and Bromley AC ace has admitted his rise to fame has been a surprise even for him.

“I’m very surprised,” he said. “Everything has escalated in the last six to eight weeks, and I’ve become well known, but I’m enjoying it.

“I was only really doing it to get fit for football, I never expected to run anywhere near where I have been able to run.

“This time a year ago I had just started getting into pre-season training so I never expected to have any of this.”

With one Gold medal already in the bag public expectation has understandably soared, but the level-headed former Chelsea apprentice insists there is no pressure on him.

“I’m just really enjoying it, just making the most of it, because it won’t last forever,” he said. “While people want to talk to me I’m loving it.

“I’m not setting myself any goals, or saying I’m going to get to this or that round, I’m going for the experience.

“I know I’m in shape and with the times I’m running hopefully I can run even quicker than I have done.

“Everyone is really excited for the Olympics, people are expecting me to perform, but I don’t feel the expectations to get a medal or make the final.

“I’m going there to have fun and get a good experience, to do my best, and if that gets me to the semi-final then that’s what happens.”

His experience in Barcelona has made him even more excited for what lays ahead in east London.

“It’s given me a lot of confidence, the championships were amazing, the Olympics is going to be a thousand times better.

“I couldn’t believe it, I saw 10.05s, and I was in bits, I was so happy, I was jumping up and down, I was loving it.”

It would be easy for such achievements to go to a young man’s head, however the support that Gemili has in place means his feet are firmly on the ground and he is already thinking about post-Olympic life.

“I put it down to my parents if I’m honest with you,” he said. “My family are so great in keeping me on the right path, if it happened to another athlete they might get big headed and have a big ego, but they keep me level headed.

“The academic side of things was a big part of my upbringing. When I was younger and playing for Chelsea (the club) they wanted me to take time off school, but we left the club because my parents wanted me to get a good education so I thank my mum because I wouldn’t be here today otherwise.

“I’m hoping to go to university starting in September because I’ve just graduated from college. I want to study sports science, anatomy, it helps you figure out and learn more about your body.”

Earlier this year he jetted off to the States to learn from the second fastest man in the world, Tyson Gay, which proved a valuable experience.

“I trained in April and March period in Florida, it was really good and a great experience seeing how they train, seeing what’s different and the level they are at,” he said.

“Everyone helped each other, we all joked around with each other, he (Gay) gave me a few tips about my start, everyone was there to help.”

The academic approach is one that is so often overlooked by professional sportsmen and women, but for now he is focusing on the Olympics, be it in reality or on screen when he plays athletics games on his Nintendo Wii.

“I play on the Playstation and watch a bit of telly. I chill out with my friends and try and relax,” he said.

“We play the Sonic and Mario thing on the Wii as well which is good fun.

“I just try and recover, that’s the main thing, just try and relax, because it’s a mental sport.”

After quitting his first love in January he does still find time to play football with his friends albeit wrapped up in cotton wool, and admits it was a hard decision to make.

“I still miss football everyday, to stop playing it makes me sad, but the way it is at the moment I want to get on with it and enjoy,” he said.



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