Daggers Academy’s Gemili insists football will always come before athletics

Gemili set to run 100 metres at European Athletics Junior Championships in Estonia in July

Dagenham & Redbridge Academy defender Adam Gemili will run the 100 metres for Great Britain at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Estonia next month, but insists football will always come first.

The 17-year-old second-year scholar currently spends his summer months on the track, running for his local club Blackheath & Bromley Harriers and is the second fastest under-20s runner in the UK.

But Gemili will resume playing for the Daggers Academy side in time for the start of their new season in the Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference and says should the time come when he has to choose between the sports, football will always come first.

“At the moment I’m playing football in the winter and I do athletics in the summer, so the two don’t really crossover, but football is my main passion,” he said.

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“I do athletics for fun and for the good experience, I enjoy competing, but how far it takes me will depend on how I do in the future.

“The time might come when I have to make a decision on which to choose and I will probably choose football.”

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While several of Gemili’s team-mates are likely to have spent the close season on holiday, there has been no such luxury for the Daggers right-back, who has been a regular fixture at race meetings around the country.

On Saturday, he clocked a wind-assisted 10.23 seconds at the Aviva Under-20s Championships in Bedford, finishing second to race winner David Bolarinwa by less than a tenth of a second.

The event doubled up as a qualifier for the European Championships, which begin on July 21 at the Kadrioru Stadium in Tallinn.

But Gemili had previously shattered the entry standard of 10.75 seconds this year and was already assured of his place in Great Britain’s squad.

Despite being one of the most promising sprinters in the country, the former Dartford Grammar School pupil is already looking ahead to the new football season, hoping to build on last year’s success where he was a regular fixture in the Academy side and had several outings with the reserve team.

Gemili joined Chelsea at the age of eight and spent seven years with the Premier League giants, before moving to Reading for one season.

Having joined Daggers last summer, Gemili splits his time training to attend Barking & Dagenham College twice a week, where he is studying for a BTEC extended diploma in sport.

And the level-headed full-back admitted he is considering applying for university, with the knowledge that his career in sport cannot last forever.

“I would like to go to university,” he said.

“I would like to do a degree, because you can’t be in sport all of your life.

“A lot will depend on what happens with Dagenham this season.”

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