Thursday, 15 June 2017 15:08

GEM OF A SUMMER 2017 World Championships in Athletics: Adam Gemili admits competition for places will be more than a two-horse race

Brit star plans to take on Usain Bolt on home soil as the sprint legend brings the curtain down on his career in London

ADAM GEMILI hasn’t ridden since he was a kid – but admits competition for sprint places at this summer’s World Championships will be more than a two-horse race.

Team-mate Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake became only the second Brit behind Gemili to run the 100 metres in under ten seconds and the 200mtrs below 20 seconds.

He added a 9.99secs in the blue riband event in May to the 19.95secs he ran last year in the longer distance.

And Gemili, who first achieved the sub-ten second 100m and sub-20 second 200m in 2015 only to get injured and then miss out on that year’s Worlds in Beijing, believes such competition can push him on this year.

Gemili has focused on the 200m in recent seasons and missed out on Olympic bronze in Rio last summer by just three thousandths of a second.

But he plans to take on Usain Bolt this summer as the sprint superstar brings the curtain down on his career at the World Championships – by doubling up in the 100m and 200m.

Gemili had again been expected to concentrate on the longer sprint in his own backyard at the championships at the Olympic Stadium in London in August, which kick off in exactly 50 days.

Defending world champion Bolt - who still holds the world record in both events - is only doing the 100m as he retires from the track.

Gemili admits: "The 200m is more open this year because Bolt is obviously concentrating on the 100m and the likes of Nethaneel will push me on too.

"There was en era in British sprinting when no one was was really running sub-10 but now that has changed.

"Not just Nethaneel but others too like CJ Ujah and James Dasolou. Nethaneel is the latest and very, very talented.

"This year especially when you look at the sprinters we have, it's going to be tough to make the British team.

"Everyone will not just have to turn up at the world trials next month but run well as there are no guaranteed spots for anyone.

"Obviously I'm confident in myself and believe I'm good enough and should qualify but nothing is a given."

Gemili, who came through the Chelsea youth set-up, recently became an ambassador for the world class horse racing event QIPCO British Champions Series.

He said: "I only ever rode a horse when I was little, on the beach when we were on a family holiday in Morrocco. I wouldn't be able to now.

"And I can't imagine switching careers like Victoria Pendleton did - becoming a jockey after retiring from Olympic cycling.

"I'm more likely to go back to football when I retire. But I'm fascinated by the sports science that goes into training horses."

Gemili, who competes over 100m at the Oslo Diamond League on Thursday having also run in Shanghai and Eugene as well as a 200m outing in Hengelo last Sunday, said: "At this stage of the season it's about ironing stuff out and finding our where you are.

"No medals are given out now, they are given out in August.

"As long as I'm ready then, that's what matters. It doesn't matter what happens before the world championships as long as you get there healthy.

"I know all about that after getting injured in 2015.

"I've been happy with the early season races. The plan is still to double up at the trials and if I'm lucky enough to quality then have a shot at both sprint events at the worlds.

"I always planned to double up eventually. First I needed to get the experience of both events at championships which I've done and be competitive over both distances which I've done.

"If you look at the best guys in the world they always double up.

"I'm a lot fitter and stronger this year too and have more experience of racing at championships so it should be absolutely fine."

Gemili, who just failed to make the 100m final at London 2012 months after swapping non-league football for athletics, said: "The closer it gets to the World Championships the more excited I get, especially after all that has happened since 2015.

"I'm a very different athlete from 2012, even from Rio. I've learned so much.

"I'm more confident in myself in competing against the world's best and I've learned how to lose as well.

"Being so close to getting to a final, then being so close to a medal and then having to wait another four years.

"I was very naive back at London 2012 but as you get older you get more respect. Now I crack on whoever I am racing against, whether it's Usain Bolt or anyone.

"I just try and execute what I do in training."