Reading FC proud of Team GB Olympic sprint star GemiliBy Jonny Fordham
August 10, 2012
Denied the chance to step out at Madejski Stadium, sprinting star Adam Gemili will aim to light-up the Olympic Stadium tonight in the 4x100m relay.
The 18-year-old Team GB athlete spent a year in Reading’s Academy in 2008/09, but failed to win a contract with the club. However, he has since gone on to claim national and global stardom in another sport.
The Londoner came third in the semi-finals of the 100m last week with a time of 10.06 after earning his place in the squad by smashing the record at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
Gemili, who started sprint training in earnest just seven months ago, is now Great Britain’s best hope of future success on the track.
Academy manager Eamonn Dolan remembers the blossoming athlete’s short-lived footballing career with Royals well.
“One Saturday about a month ago I was listening to the radio and they were talking about this new sprint sensation called Adam Gemili,” Dolan told getreading.
“Then, suddenly, all the Academy staff were texting each other and trying to get to the TV to check it out.
“We’re so pleased for him because he’s a lovely lad. Adam did great in his race the other night and I’m sure he will do really well because of his attitude.
"Most boys in an Academy fail, so you like to think they all have positive experiences and can go on and be successful somewhere else - it’s brilliant.
"Adam was picked up by one of our scouts Steve Birchmore and he was rapido. What we look for first is how players deal with the ball, how they move and what their spirit is like.
“This kid had a bit of work to do with what he did with the ball, but moved unbelievable well and had great spirit.
“He was with us for 18-months and was very close to securing a scholarship with us. If he had another year, I think he would have got it. He was a very intelligent boy at school and we also knew he was good at athletics and we always talked about that.
“Adam just missed out with us and then went on to Dagenham, where he played a Johnson’s Paint Trophy game in his scholarship years.
“He just needed to develop a little bit more technically and then he would have flourished because of his pace and attitude. If he wanted to be a footballer, he could have.
“He had the ability and he did it a couple of times when he dribbled through the whole team. He hadn’t played a lot of football and we always wondered how good he could get.
“Adam started as a winger, but ended up at full-back. Sometimes the ball would come off him, but I remember one game against Birmingham, it was like a Ricky Villa goal times 10. He had that in his locker.”
Dolan believed that Gemili could have somehow continued to have balanced playing football with his athletics during his early years in the beautiful game, but admitted that the decision to quit couldn’t be faulted.
He added: “I think he made the right choice. When is the next time he will get a chance in his home Olympics – never.
"To finish third in the Games like that is exceptional. We were so pleased for him.
“I remember discussing with his parents whether he should play football or concentrate on athletics and he definitely made the right choice.”