Adam Gemili of Great Britain celebrates after winning the Men's 100 metres Final on the day two of the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Barcelona

Will Gemili become the first junior to go sub-10 for the 100m?

Adam Gemili produced a master class exhibition of sprinting to win the IAAF World Junior Championships 100m title in a Championship record and British junior record of 10.05 on Wednesday. Such a performance inevitably raised the question, will he become the first junior to go under the 10-second barrier?

The official World Junior record is 10.01 and was set by Trinidad's Darrel Brown in 2003 - who also owned the previous Championship Record with the 10.09 he clocked a decade ago in the Jamaican capital Kingston - but Gemili has the rest of the summer to improve on that mark.

"Let's see what's going to happen, I'm just trying to enjoy it; I'll go to the Olympics to enjoy it as well. It (the World Junior record) would be such a bonus. If I execute a better race than here then the times will come," said Gemili cautiously in the aftermath of his commanding victory in Barcelona.

Clock caution

"It was very important here to back up the 10.08 that I ran in Regensburg (Germany) last month. As far as a sub-10 is concerned, who knows? I just know that there is a lot more to come," he added, after his triumph in the same stadium as his compatriot Linford Christie took the Olympic 100m gold medal 20 years ago.

"I know what's being said but I'm just trying to keep my feet on the ground."

Despite being the clear favourite with his world-leading time, Gemili's ambitions for what he wanted to achieve in Barcelona were actually far more modest than a medal.

"This is a massive stepping stone. Just making the final was an achievement but the fact I had the win is so amazing. It’s going to help me a lot at the Olympics. I was trying to stay relaxed because I know if I tighten up when I run, I don’t run as quick. You’ve got to stay relaxed and stay focused and try and execute a race."

Perhaps, as well, Gemili who didn't set his own targets too high, despite his obvious abundance of talent, knows that he is very much still a rough diamond and was very aware of his potential shortcomings despite taking the silver medal behind France's Jimmy Vicaut at last summer's European Athletics Junior Championships.

The former footballer, who was once part of Chelsea's youth squad, has only been taking sprinting seriously since the start of the year.

"If you look at the start, and look at what he did two or three weeks ago, Adam is two different people. We came here just to run the first 40 metres, I knew that we had to run a better first 40 so I changed his start basically just three weeks ago. It was very good here," explained his coach Michael Afilaka.

Gemili trains at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre which provides a home to many of the British team that will represent the hosts’ interests at the Olympics. However, he has to make a gruelling cross-capital trip from his family home in London's south-eastern suburb of Dartford to link up with Afilaka.

"It can sometimes be a hike to get next door in London," joked Afilaka. "He doesn't train as many days as some of the senior sprinters."

"He was part of the British junior relay team last year but his Mum (who was on hand in Barcelona to witness her son's triumph) asked if I could take him on last October. However, he was still playing football and I only saw him twice a week at that point and it became four times a week in January," explained his coach.

Another British record

Despite American and Caribbean sprinters usually seen as dominating the 100m landscape, Gemili's success in Barcelona means that Great Britain actually become the most successful nation ever in the event at the World Junior Championships, as he follows in the footsteps of previous victories by Christian Malcolm, Mark Lewis-Francis and most recent Harry Aikines-Aryeety in 2006.

It might be said that though all three went on to become familiar figures on the international circuit and become established as professional athletes, they never quite hit the heights predicted for them as teenagers.

None of them have gone on to triumph even on the continental stage after standing on top of the world as juniors, although both Malcolm and Lewis-Francis have gone on to get individual European Athletics Championships silver medals.

Soon the pressure will be on Gemili to change that trend in the coming years but for the moment he thoroughly deserves his moment in the sun, which should continue all the way to the Olympics.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF