BRITISH sprinting sensation Adam Gemili says Britain has a golden generation of junior athletes coming through and singled out Canvey’s precocious Jessica Judd as a potential great.
Judd, 17, a sixth-former at King John School, has just become the second fastest British junior 800m runner of all time by clocking an Olympic B-standard time of 2.01.09 in Watford.
And Gemili – who like Judd has emerged as a potential selection for this summer’s Olympics – said Judd is one of the leading lights in the country.
“I think the next generation of British athletics is going to be phenomenal,” said Gemili, 18.
“We have got so many talented juniors coming through and they’re all starting to move towards their peaks.
“Jess Judd is really good. I know Jess and she has the potential to get right to the very top.
“But, like I said, we’ve got so many good ones coming through – boys and girls – that it really is an exciting time at the moment.”
Gemili has shot to national acclaim after going from playing semi-professional football in Essex with Thurrock in the Conference South to recording the fastest 100m time by a Briton this year and an an Olympic A-standard mark of 10.08s.
But Gemili still remains very much a fan, looking up to his idols.
He tuned in to see Olympic gold medal favourite Usain Bolt clock 9.79s for victory at a Diamond League meeting in Oslo on Friday.
Gemili said: “It was a great race – it always is when he faces Asafa Powell. And it was a lot closer than I thought it might be and it bodes well for a great race at London 2012.
“I think if you are a sprinting fan that’s one you can’t miss because it's going to be great.”
Bolt was asked about Gemili in a press conference last week, and the Jamaican said he felt the young Brit should only compete at London 2012 if he feels “mentally strong” enough to do so.
“To hear someone like Usian Bolt talk about you feels amazing,” said Gemili.
“He is the best at what we do and every sprinter should try to emulate him because he makes what we do look so easy.
“I think what he said about me was fair enough and I appreciate the advice.
“But I feel I am mentally strong enough and I know that I can only affect myself when it comes to how I perform.”
Gemili is currently the only GB sprinter with an Olympic A qualifying time.
But he has yet to decide whether he will even compete at the Olympic trials, which start on 22 June, just five days after the trials for the World Junior Championships – the competition he has been training for all season.
However, he said he feels that if he does go for an Olympic spot, he will have earned his right to be there.
“I think what I have done recently has put me in the mix, but it is never going to be easy,” said Gemili, who trains under Michael Afilaka at Lee Valley.
“If I decide to go to the Olympic trials then it will not be easy because I am only 18 and the other top sprinters are not just going to let me walk past them.
“But I feel like I’ve earnt my place there and I’ve earnt the right comepte.”
Gemili is also a promising footballer and he said he was sad to see Thurrock – the club he spent three months at last season – eventually relegated from the Conference South.
“We had a great team there and it was a shame it got changed about so much because that made us a bit inconsistent,” he said. “And I was sad to see them go down because I did become emotionally attatched to the club. I hope they come straight back up.”
Gemili’s also played at various levels for Chelsea, Reading and Dagenham & Redbridge, and when when asked if his future lies on the football pitch or the athletics track, it seems the fastest right-back in the country is keeping his options open.
“I don't know what the future holds for me – this year I’m doing athletics and I’ve just got to see how I do,” he said.
“So it all just depends. But who knows – if things work out the way I want them to hopefully can end up being successful in both.”