Commonwealth Games 2014: Adam Gemili straight into the 100m groove but Michael Johnson demands more to take the title

British sprinting has been enjoying a rich vein of form this season

Hampden Park

Adam Gemili’s odds of taking home his first senior title were 25-1 with bookmakers prior to the start of the first day of athletics action here; he is now 5-1 after setting the quickest time of 10.15 seconds in the men’s 100 metres.

In some ways the action on track was muted. This was supposedly the night of the Mo Show but instead the Londoner was a no show, illness ruling Mo Farah out of part one of an attempted Commonwealth Games double in the 5,000m. Usain Bolt had also at one time been expected to feel the full force of the Hampden roar but a foot injury meant he was unable to qualify via his national trials.

Instead, Gemili was the star attraction from a home nations perspective, although the cold and windy conditions – in stark contrast to the Games weather to date – played their part in producing slow times across the board.

“I think I’m going to have to break 10 seconds to get a gold medal, these guys are running really fast,” he said. “I’m loving it and I’m very lucky to come to a place like this.”

 

Competition is likely to come from Trinidad & Tobago’s Richard Thompson, on paper the fastest man in the field with a season’s best of 9.82sec, his countryman Keston Bledman, and the Jamaican trio of Nickel Ashmeade, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Jason Livermore.

To aspire to a first senior title, Gemili needs to improve, according to the former Olympic 200m and 400m champion Michael Johnson, a long-time admirer of the 20-year-old but a harsh critic after his opening run of the Commonwealth Games. “I wasn’t that excited by Gemili’s performance,” said Johnson. “What has impressed me so much over the last couple of years is his technique and he looked a little light there. He hasn’t run in a while and he’s been through a coaching change, so that may have something to do with it.”

Gemili has switched coach to Steve Fudge, who also works with James Dasaolu, and recorded a personal best of 10.04sec earlier this month in Mannheim, Germany, hinting that he is on the cusp of going under that all-important time barrier.

Of his chances of going sub-10sec in Glasgow, Gemili said: “If it happens, it would be awesome to do it in front of a British crowd. That would be unbelievable. I believe I can definitely do it at some point. If it doesn’t happen here, hopefully I have a long enough career that I am able to go forward and do that.” Richard Kilty has dedicated his performances in Glasgow to a friend who drowned last week Richard Kilty has dedicated his performances in Glasgow to a friend who drowned last week

British sprinting has been enjoying a rich vein of form this season but, while all six of England’s challengers booked their place in the semi-finals, all were some way short of their best.

Richard Kilty and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey ensured they will run again with second and third respectively in their heats. Kilty, the world indoor 60m champion who has struggled to translate that indoor form to outdoors, afterwards dedicated his qualification and Games campaign as a whole to his friend David Zikhali, a 20-year-old who drowned in an accident in the River Tees last Monday.

Kilty has been helping via an online donation page to help raise funds for a funeral for his friend, originally from Zimbabwe, who is thought to have got into difficulty when trying to swim across the river with friends last Monday evening.

“It’s a very sad loss, he was a great lad and I would just like to say this season is dedicated to him,” said Kilty. “David was the most loving guy you will ever meet. He’s always laughing, he’s always joking. He’s loved by everyone across Stockton.”

The English trio of Sophie Papps, who was only announced as a late replacement for Ashleigh Nelson in the individual event in the morning, Asha Philip and Bianca Williams gained automatic qualification in the women’s 100m.

Williams, second behind Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart in 11.35sec, showed glimpses of a return to her early season form. “I’ve been struggling for my past two races with the bad weather and little niggles but this is my senior debut, I saw the crowd and I thought, ‘I can do this’,” she said.

The trio’s medal hopes were lifted last night when favourite Michelle-Lee Ahye, of Trinidad & Tobago, withdrew from the Games after pulling a hamstring.

Legally blind 100m runner Jason Smyth, competing for Northern Ireland against able-bodied athletes, took to the start line but failed to qualify for the next day’s racing.

But the biggest cheer of the night was for the last man across the line in the final race, Rosefelo Siosi, of the Solomon Islands, greeted two and a half minutes behind the penultimate finisher in the 5,000m as if he were Bolt or Farah.

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