Adam Gemili knows just how important this year’s Olympics will be to him personally with the British sprinter admitting it could determine how his life pans out after his career. Gemili, 27, came agonisingly close to a 200m bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics after a photo-finish confirmed Christophe Lemaitre had just pipped him to the line by one-thousandth of a second.
In the years that followed, Gemili has been fuelled by that disappointment with the Tokyo Olympics being his main goal.
So when the news broke last year that he would have to wait until 2021 to get his chance, Gemili was devastated.
It took him some time to get back on track – largely due to the coronavirus pandemic playing havoc with his training and competition schedule – but Gemili has now used the extra year to begin thinking about life after sport and he knows that a medal in Tokyo will make a massive difference to his future aspirations.
“Last year was frustrating because I was in really good shape,” he told Express Sport.
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“I was so on it and for everything to be taken away so quickly, you sort of lose your purpose and it made me realise that I need a purpose. I need to have something I’m working towards and to get into a routine, otherwise I don’t do anything.
“It made me think a lot about life after sport as well. I’m 27 now so I don’t know how many more years I’m going to be doing this.
“Hopefully many but eventually I’m going to have to start thinking about life after sport so I’ve got to make sure that I’m not, after I retire, sitting and twiddling my thumbs for a couple years trying to figure out what I want to do.”
He added: “It’s going to make this Olympics extra special because EVERYONE is going to be watching this and it’s going to mean a lot to alot of people.”
Gemili, a Müller Rice Ambassador, has a self-assured approach to what he wants after retirement – to take up a governance role in sport.
He has faith in his own ideas that he can help revive interest in athletics in a year which he believes has hampered the next generation.
“I would love to be in the governing side of sport, I believe that’s where I can make a big difference to athletes,” Gemili said.
“I have a lot of good ideas about what needs to change in sport, starting with the grassroots level of sport.
“We’re not seeing that massive engagement like we had after London 2012.
“The only way young athletes will want to get into the sport is that they will look at the people being successful like the Katarina’s [Johnston-Thompson], the Dina’s [Asher-Smith] – the people that are medalling and they think, ‘oh she’s from only down the road, I can do that’ and then they go out, start training and that little belief and motivation inspires them.
“That’s where I really believe I can come into play and work on that governance of sport because we’re at a risk of losing a whole generation of athletes to Covid really because they’re not able to go out or train like we were their age.
“When things go back to normal, it’s not just the role of the governing body but also the athletes to inspire and push the next generation to come through.”
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