Adam Gemili, the youngest member of the British athletics team, is savoring the prospect of a clash with the cream of the Caribbean sprinters at the London Olympics.
After a meteoric rise, the 18-year-old is currently the second-fastest 100m man in Europe this year, behind France’s European champion Christophe Lemaitre, with a time of 10.08 seconds.
On Tuesday, after he was named in the British track and field team, Gemili said he felt privileged to be part of a field which would include Jamaica’s defending champion Usain Bolt, world gold medalist Yohan Blake and former world-record holder Asafa Powell.
“I feel privileged that I’ve earned a place and will be able to line up against them and be racing them,” Gemili told reporters at the Team GB headquarters in Stratford, a javelin throw away from the Olympic park.
“They are the best at what they do and hopefully I’ll aspire to run the times they run,” he said.
The London-born sprinter won praise from UK Athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee, who said he had no concern that the Olympic Games would be too big an occasion.
“Adam is bright and level-headed and he can look after himself. He has a good coach and a stable family, so I have no concerns,” Van Commenee said.
Gemili, who will compete in the world junior championship in Barcelona this month, was a promising soccer player who spent time at Chelsea’s academy as a defender.
He did not realize his full potential until he began competing for his local club Blackheath and Bromley Harriers, and became one of the fastest young athletes in Britain.
“I didn’t realize how fast I was or how fast I could be. I knew I had pace playing football,” he said.
“I competed for my school and used to win local competitions and be the best in the area, but I never expected it to be on this scale that I’d run,” Gemili added.