Adam Gemili from United Kingdom during the IAAF Press Conference before the start of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona (Getty Images) © Copyright
Gemili was only eight when signed by Chelsea before moving on to Reading in a lower division and then non-league side Thurrock before quitting and concentrating on a track and field career after winning a European Junior silver medal last summer.
That success broadened his vision and he immediately set his sights on winning a British World Junior 4x100 relay slot before sensationally clocking 10.08 at a meeting in Regensburg, Germany on June 2.
Now Gemili the fastest man at the Championships and where his heat will start in Barcelona's 1992 Olympic Stadium around lunchtime tomorrow, is being tipped to become the fourth Briton to life the 100m gold medal following the previous successes of Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.
"Obviously those three others are amazing in what they've done," said Gemili, Europe second and his country's fastest performer this year. "They've come to the Junior Champs and done so well. I look up to them. Hopefully I will follow in their footsteps."
Gemili who also admires Linford Christie winner of the Olympic 100m crown on the Barcelona track 20 years ago this month, added: "It was a surprise when I ran 10.08 so quickly.
"I did expect to do it one day but maybe not as quick as I did. When I ran 10.08 it was a great feeling. I couldn't believe it. I was speechless and couldn't get to sleep that night. I was just in shock so happy and over the moon."
Gemili who has benefited immensely from the coaching advice of the experienced Michael Afilaka, revealed: "At the start of the year the World Junior Championships was my main aim. The Olympics was just a massive bonus and I'm still focusing on the World Juniors now.
"I've come here to do as well as I can. Me and my coach have worked really really hard so that I can do the best I can and hopefully maintain it to the Olympic Games and do well there also."
Gemili aware there are some talented Caribbean and USA sprinters in the line-up, insisted: "I'm aware of a lot of my competitors but I am just focusing on my own race and my own lane. I am up there with them."
He also stressed that challenging the Championship record of 10.09 set by Trinidad's Darrel Brown 10-years ago in Kingston, Jamaica, is not a priority in his challenge for the gold medal.
"I'm not looking to talking times," said Gemili. "I want to execute my race and perform well. If I do that I will be happy."
"The last month or so has been really hectic and manic but I've enjoyed every moment of it and enjoyed showing people what I can do and how I can run."
David Martin for the IAAF
- Adam Gemili from United Kingdom during the IAAF Press Conference before the start of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Adam Gemili (L) of United Kingdom and Wilson Kipketer of Denmark pose for the media before the start of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
1999 Women 60m heats