Monday, June 25, 2012
The coach of teenager sprinter Adam Gemili is not yet convinced he is mentally ready for the "cauldron of the Olympics" after revealing he was an "emotional wreck" after guaranteeing selection for London 2012 by finishing second to Dwain Chambers in the 100 metres at the trials.
The 18-year-old, who leads the British rankings this year with 10.08 seconds, booked his place at the Games with a top-two finish at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium, but his coach Michael Afilaka insists deciding whether he should go is anything but a straightforward decision.
The main target of the former footballer, who was on the books of Chelsea, Reading and Dagenham and Redbridge until he decided to concentrate on athletics in January, is the 100 and 200m at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, which get under way on July 10.
And Afilaka claims there is currently only a 51% chance he will also compete in London. He said: "It's not about turning it down. The key is that we have to remember this is a young kid and everybody is getting carried away.
"It's not the World Juniors versus the Olympics. It's always been the juniors and the Olympics is just a bonus. We have to be sensible. We don't want to deviate from the plan. Eleven months ago the aim for Adam was to make the relay six for the junior team and he was not good enough to do that.
"If you throw him into the cauldron of the Olympics and he gets burned then he might never recover. I'm not saying we're not going to do it. I'm just saying that right now the plan is World Juniors and we'll adjust accordingly."
Afilaka insists the fact the Olympics are in London will play no part in his decision. He said: "It's irrelevant. The reality is the competition doesn't change. I'm very clear what that competition is and it's brutal - from getting kitted out to walking into the Olympics Stadium. I've been there, seen it, trust me. He's not just a young kid, he's young to athletics. I'm not saying no, but it really has to be a day-by-day decision."
Gemili had looked the smoothest of the qualifiers into yesterday 100m final, but was pipped by Chambers, 16 years his senior, who took the title in 10.25 seconds, 0.04secs ahead of his young rival. That final was the highest-profile race Gemili has been in in his fledgling career, but the spotlight at the Olympics will be something else entirely.
Afilaka added: "You have a number of British athletes who have been on their own, but sprinkle a couple of Americans in and they go blank. The development is not just physical, it's mental as well. If you saw him yesterday evening he was an emotional wreck. Literally, with no asking him, I knew there was no way he could do the 200 today. We have to be very sensible."
The UK Athletics selectors will meet on July 2 to decide on the team for London, so Afilaka and Gemili will make a decision on his involvement over the next week.
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Posted by Nitu at 01:35