Team GB's youngest member Adam Gemili has said he will not be star-struck by Usain Bolt and the other athletes he will be competing against tomorrow.
The 18-year-old grammar school-educated sprinter said: “I can’t wait to line up because these are the quickest guys in the world.
“You aspire to be like them so to line up against them would just be amazing for me, I can’t wait. I won’t be star-struck, everyone is going to be the same on the line and everyone’s got to run 100 metres.
“I think before the Games you know these guys and you look up to them, but when it comes to the Games and it comes to the start everyone’s a competitor. You’ve got to be serious and put yourself up there.”
Gemili, from Dartford, was playing Division Two football as recently as last November. But since deciding to dedicate himself to sprinting, his career has gone stratospheric.
As well as claiming a place in Britain’s 100 metres Olympic team, he won the World Junior Championships in Barcelona and clocked a personal best time of 10.05 seconds – making him the second-fastest European this year.
He competes in the men’s 100 metres preliminaries tomorrow morning.
Talking about his remarkable change in fortunes, he said: “I didn’t have a glamorous life at all. I was playing for Dagenham & Redbridge, which is a good club but I was just training every day. Sprinting makes you change a lot about nutrition and your diet. Being in the Olympics is absolutely unbelievable for me, the last couple of months have been unreal.” Gemili is reserved about his home life, save for saying that his father is Moroccan and he has “quite a big family” where “everyone looks after each other”. He said: “My parents have already supported me in everything I’ve done. They will even support me when I’m 40 years old, they’ve been absolutely unbelievable – my friends and my family have guided me and shown me right from wrong. They keep my feet on the ground and keeping me level-headed.”
He added: “I’d like to have some privacy in life, because it’s your own life and you like to keep some personal things personal.”
But Gemili is enjoying the recognition he is getting.
He said: “Occasionally, some will be like: ‘Aren’t you that 18-year-old sprinter?’ ‘Who me?’ It’s nice when people just know you and are familiar with you.” But one incident made him realise he’s not a household name just yet.
When he was given his official Olympic accreditation this week, he was surprised to discover the photo on it was not him.
He tweeted: “My Olympic accreditation to get into the Games. Who even is this guy?!?!?”