BRITISH Olympic hopeful Adam Gemili admits watching the world’s greatest athlete from the sidelines, rather than staring at his heels, convinced him sprinting is a sport of mind over matter.
Since exploding onto the scene in 2012, where he became the sixth-fastest junior sprinter of all time, Gemili has competed at both the London Olympics and World Championships, and collected a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Elation was quickly replaced by despair when the London-born athlete broke the elusive 10-second barrier for the first time last July, as the 22-year-old tore his hamstring in the process, ruling him out of August’s World Championships.
But having made his comeback at last weekend’s Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix, Gemili is relishing being back in his spikes.
“To be injury-free and competitive again, having my hamstring in one piece, it is a great feeling, it sets me up nicely for the summer ahead.” said Gemili, speaking at the Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport workshop at the Loughborough University campus on Monday, where more than 20 of the country’s brightest athletes were in attendance.
“The injury taught me a lot. I came into the British squad when I was 18 and I’ve not really had a chance to step back from that and have a look at myself.
“Although the injury was really bad it gave me a chance to do that and to look at certain things that we’ve not looked at before.
“Really small details that when the season is ongoing you don’t get to examine, plus I got to enjoy watching athletics again – enjoy being a spectator.
“So although the injury was a setback it’s something that will hopefully help me go on and shape the rest of my career.”
Gemili watched on in Beijing as six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt claimed his third World Championship 100m gold medal.
But rather than teaching him that the Jamaican is unbeatable, Gemili insists Bolt’s historic triumph only reinforced the idea that self-belief is everything as he looks to achieve the impossible at this summer’s Olympics.
He said: “If you’re mentally switched on then the rest of your body will follow. As we saw in the 100m, Bolt absolutely killed it.
“He maybe wasn’t in the best physical shape of everyone there, but mentally he’s someone to look up to and aspire to be like. Mentally he’s unbelievable and he came away with three gold medals.
“You have to believe you can be competitive with these guys and you have to have the confidence in your own ability, and I believe in myself fully that I can go to Rio and hopefully get a medal.
“You have to be aiming for that; if you’re aiming for second best you’ll only get second best.
“The likes of Bolt, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay are not going to be around forever, which is a shame, but when the day comes when they do retire there will be a big hole in athletics, and it will leave a lot of people fighting for the top spots.”
Gemili took time out of his training schedule to attend a Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport workshop at Loughborough University last week, sharing his knowledge and expertise with more than 20 of the country’s brightest athletes.
Those in attendance are set to be the stars of tomorrow, and Gemili too turned his attentions to the future with Rio 2016 fast approaching
Looking ahead to Rio, Gemili added: “We all really want to go to Rio and win a gold medal for the 4x100m. Mentally we believe we can do it. Like I said before, nine times out of ten the people that are strongest mentally come out on top
“As ridiculous as that sounds we believe we can do that, so we’ve really come together and are united. Hopefully that will show when we start racing in the summer.”
Land Rover Ambassador Adam Gemili attended the Jaguar Land Rover Academy of Sport workshop alongside David Flatman and SportsAid Patron Bryan Steel. For more information visit sportsaid.org.uk.