Having started to write himself off, the 2017 world champion explains why he feels ready to be a contender again and why he wants to give athletes a bigger say in their sport
This is the really hard part. That point in the year when the groundwork is being laid and an athlete’s agenda is filled with the necessary evil of the unvarnished hard graft that leaves bodies battered and energy drained.
“You wake up tired, you go training, you come home, you recover – you’re just stuck in that cycle,” says Adam Gemili. “It’s the hardest part of the sport. This is the part that no one really sees but it means the most. If you don’t do this right, it can really mess up your whole year.”
He may be weary, but the 30-year-old could not be happier. After the mental and physical torment of the past three years, to be in the thick of winter training with motivation restored and his own personal ship steadied feels priceless. Gemili just wants to give himself a chance. He can’t shake the belief that, should the stars align, he can be a contender on the world stage once again.
It helps that the outside noise has quietened. It was at last year’s British Indoor Championships that the 4x100m world champion revealed he had almost quit athletics and explored trying to play professional football (he used to be part of Chelsea’s academy system). The reason was the controversy he found himself embroiled in around his then coach, Rana Reider, who was placed under investigation for sexual misconduct. The American is free to coach but is currently under a 12-month probation for a relationship that “presented a power imbalance” with one of his athletes. He was not found to be in violation of any other misconduct claims.
Gemili didn’t make it past the 200m heats at the World Championships in Oregon, citing the “bad press” at the time, and while fellow training partners such as Daryll Neita had left Reider’s Florida-based group almost immediately, Gemili only departed in August of 2022, almost a year after being told to cut ties by UK Athletics.
“That situation has cleared up now but, mentally, I wasn’t prepared for any of that,” he admits of the circumstances which had wide-reaching consequences for him. “I’ve always been happy-go-lucky and I’d never had a panic attack before, I’d never had an anxiety attack. I was barely able to do one session a week so the fact that I even got through that year, it was…