Dartford sprinter Adam Gemili hails sports psychologist for giving him belief going into medal hunt in 200m at Rio Olympics
PUBLISHED: 13:01 16 August 2016 | UPDATED: 13:01 16 August 2016
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Gemili begins his quest for glory this afternoon
Dartford sprinter Adam Gemili has credited renowned sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters for giving him the belief he is equipped to challenge for a 200 metres medal in Rio.
The 22-year-old’s Olympics begin this afternoon in the heats of a competition where the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt, aiming for a third successive 200m Olympic crown, will bid to become the first to go sub-19 seconds against a field likely to include Justin Gatlin, LaShawn Merritt and Yohan Blake.
Bolt has suffered just one defeat over the half-lap distance in nine years so Gemili, whose personal best is only a shade under 20 seconds, accepts publicly stating he thinks he can cross the line before him is “ludicrous”, even if he harbours the inner belief it is possible.
That is because Gemili values the aspect of psychology in sprinting, particularly after watching on at last year’s World Championships when Bolt overcame doubts about his physical shape to pip Gatlin to 100m gold.
“The mental side of this sport is as important as the physical side,” Gemili said.
“In Beijing last year it wasn’t necessarily about the person who was in the best physical shape, it was the person who was mentally the strongest. Usain always believes he’s the best athlete and will win.
“I’m going into Rio in the mindset I’m going out there to be competitive and compete with the best in the world and no one is going to beat me.
“I’m going to do my best to win it, as ludicrous as that sounds, I have to believe that mentally and I do.”
Such thoughts have been fostered by Peters, a man who earned praise for his work with British cyclists in the previous decade when their Olympic gold rush first started.
Peters has also worked with Ronnie O’Sullivan and the England national football team and, as a keen sprinter himself, Gemili has been able to lean on him for advice on how to flourish in athletics.
“He gave a speech to the British athletics team in 2013 and I approached him after as I was really interested in what he was saying,” he explained.
“I said I would really love to work together and I think he liked that and we’ve really clicked. He does sprinting himself, he’s an unbelievable sprinter, and we do really get on.
“He’s not someone that is going to pity me and make me feel good about myself, he’s really harsh on me and I need that. It’s a great relationship that we have.”
Peters is not the only one to have offered former footballer Gemili guidance on the road to Rio.
The irrepressible Bolt has been another sounding board and while his presence over the past three Games may have denied a generation of sprinters a shot at gold, Gemili admits it will be sad to see the 29-year-old walk away from athletics.
“I love how he carries himself,” the former Dartford Grammar School pupil said.
“He’s very relaxed, he doesn’t really get himself aggressive to run because he doesn’t need to be like that and I’m the same. It doesn’t work for me.
“He’s a great athlete to watch on and off the track and he’s very cool open for advice and easy to talk to. It will be a great shame when he does retire from the sport.”