Still: “Never in a million years did I think he would compete at the Olympics”
London 2012: Dagenham & Redbridge manager John Still always knew Adam Gemili had potential, but reveals his shock at the sprinter’s swift progression
On Saturday, July 30 2011 an unknown right-back pulled on the Dagenham & Redbridge red and blue and gave the supporters at Victoria Road their first glimpse of his credentials in a 2-1 defeat to Stevenage in the first team’s final pre-season friendly of the summer.
Fast forward 12 months and while his football career may have stagnated, that unknown right-back has become one of Britain’s most exciting sprint talents in decades.
Adam Gemili, who continues to attend Barking & Dagenham College, has shot to international fame during an extraordinary eight-week period which has seen him become the fastest man in Britain, qualify for the Olympic Games and win world junior gold at a canter in Barcelona.
Not bad for an 18-year-old who, as recently as January, was toying between a career in athletics or his first love of football.
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His emergence as the nation’s top sprinter, so close to the start of the Olympic Games, has come as a surprise to many. But those who have worked with Gemili at close quarters knew the laidback teenager always possessed something special.
Dagenham & Redbridge manager John Still recalls: “He always showed great athleticism.
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“He was a good lad, I don’t know whether he would have been as successful a footballer as he has been an athlete.
“He always had the basic ingredients, but never in a million years did I think he would compete at the Olympics.
“But he’s being properly coached as a runner now rather than a footballer.
“Everyone at the football club is excited about what he is doing, what he can carry on doing in the future and we all hope he does well.
“Just getting through the first round would be a great achievement and we really do all wish him the very best.”