• Athletics

Bolt backs Gemili for greatness

ESPN staff
August 30, 2013
Adam Gemili qualified for his first major final at the World Championships with a personal best of 19.98 seconds in his 200m semi-final © PA Photos

Usain Bolt has given his backing to Adam Gemili, insisting the British sprinter is on course for greatness.

Gemili, 19, failed to break the 10-second barrier in the 100m at Thursday's Diamond League meeting in Zurich, blaming a bad start.

Had he done it, Gemili would have become the first ever Briton to have also run under 20 seconds in the 200m.

But Bolt, a six-time Olympic champion, thinks it won't be too long before Gemili is challenging at the very top.

"He's going to be great, as long as you do not pressure him," Bolt said.

Despite running a season's best time of 10.06 seconds, Gemili finished eighth in Zurich. He has enjoyed a meteoric rise since opting to focus on athletics full time and quitting as a lower league footballer in January 2012.

Gemili ran his personal best of 10.05 seconds in the 100m last summer at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.

He then narrowly missed out on qualifying for the final at London 2012, but followed that up with 100m gold at the European Athletics Under-23 Championships in Finland this July before finishing fifth in the 200m at this month's World Championships in Moscow, his first appearance in a major final.

His time of 19.98 seconds in the semi-final made him the second fastest Briton ever over 200m, behind John Regis who ran 19.87 in Italy in 1994.

And despite such an impressive start to Gemili's career, Bolt warned that placing too much pressure on his shoulders could be a hindrance.

"With younger athletes, the biggest thing is when people pressure them too much," said Bolt. "If you try to put too much pressure on these athletes, they cannot handle it.

"When they are younger, you should just enjoy [them]. Over time, they will get more experience, they will get serious, and they will do well."

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