LONDON 2012: Gemili and Bertrand team-mates again - but not at Chelsea
IF sporting fate had taken another twist then Adam Gemili and Ryan Bertrand might have been Chelsea rather than Team GB team-mates.
NEW GUARD: Rising star Adam Gemili and veteran Dwain Chambers will were named on Team GB's Olympic squad this week (Getty Images/Aviva Athletics)
Gemili, Britain's fastest sprinter this season, and Bertrand, Stuart Pearce's first-choice left-back, both earned their Olympic call-ups this week.
The pair were once colleagues at Chelsea's academy until their sporting careers diverged, Gemili, still just 18, realising his speed was more valuable without a ball at his feet.
"Ryan was a couple of years above me at Chelsea but we used to train together and I played a couple of in-house friendly games against him," said Gemili, whose 10.08 second personal best puts him top of the British rankings this year and also makes him favourite for this month's World Junior Championships.
"Just from playing football I knew I was quick because attackers - I'm a defender - attackers struggled to get it past me and beat me.
"I didn't realise how fast I was or how fast I could be. I knew I had pace but I just didn't realise how much."
While for many athletes on Team GB these Games are the culmination of a lifetime's obsession and training, Gemili readily admits he didn't really take much notice of the Olympics until Beijing just four years ago.
Even last year the closest he thought he would get to the Olympic Stadium was as a ticket holder, although his application for prized track and field seats, like thousands of others, was unsuccessful.
But his decision to commit to athletics full-time, this time last year he was still playing non-league football with Thurrock, and the guidance of canny coach Michael Afilaka, has seen him make a breakthrough few in the sport would have predicted.
And he insists there is still room for improvement on his personal best.
"I'm still improving a lot," he insists.
"That 10.08 was quite a scrappy race and I've made a lot of improvements, a lot of changes since then. If I keep improving then hopefully I can still produce some quicker times this year.
"I feel privileged that I've earned a place at London 2012 and I will be lining up against the likes of Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, potentially anything can happen in that race and it feels really good.
"The world juniors have always been the priority this year and still are. But the Olympics is such a big thing that you can't just pass it over.
"My coach wanted to make sure I was managed properly and didn't want me to burn out. I'm going to the Games to get a good experience and will take that into the future."