Anxious wait for Olympic hopefuls as Gemili ponders London decision
Three days of intense competition at the Aviva 2012 Trials, and we were left with three discrete groups of athletes: the guarantees, the hopefuls and the distinctly nervous.
That first group, the select selected, left the Alexander Stadium knowing their job was done. With both a top-two finish in their event and the 'A' standard to their name, 33 athletes ensured they would be heading to London as part of the British Olympic squad.
The hopefuls were those who failed to compete in their events in Birmingham but whose form and standing make them almost certain of a discretionary place - former world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, world indoor triple jump champion Yamile Aldama, world 10,000m gold medallist Mo Farah and world 1500m silver medallist Hannah England.
Then we come to the last - and largest - group: those with neither the guaranteed place nor the form or history to be sure the selectors will give them the nod.
For these athletes, the next week will make or break their chances of competing in a home Olympics. And it will be a very anxious seven days indeed.
Dwain Chambers celebrates his 100m victory at the Trials. But will he secure an Olympic spot? Picture: Getty
Some, like Dwain Chambers, 800m man Mohammed Muktar and former world 1500m silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey, have their fate in their own hands. For these two and others who finished in the top two in Birmingham this weekend but without the 'A' standard, they have until 1 July to secure the required mark and guarantee their selection.
The European Championships in Helsinki, which begin on Wednesday, will provide the ideal stage for some.
Others, like long jumper Lorraine Ugen, whose second place on Sunday came with a leap just a single centimetre off the all-important 'A', will be desperately seeking good conditions at a far more low-key meet.
Ugen is one of the more unlucky ones. The 'A' standard for the women's long jump is 6.75 metres, in an event where 6.76m was good enough for a world bronze medal last summer.
With Shara Proctor already nailed on for long jump selection following her Trials win in a new British record of 6.95m, Ugen is up against one of the unshakeable principles of UK Athletics' selection policy: while an athlete who has two 'B' standards can be picked on discretion, it can only happen if no 'A' athletes have also been picked.
Chambers is a little more fortunate. He needs a far more forgiving 10.18 seconds or less to secure a 100m slot, and Helsinki should see him do it comfortably. But even then he, like Dobriskey, has hope; as an athlete with two or more 'A' standards from last summer, he can also benefit from the selectors' discretionary option.
Then there are those who have the 'A' standard but not the top-two finish - European 800m silver medallist Michael Rimmer, 400m hurdler Rhys Williams, 100m man James Dasaolu.
Rimmer will aim to make a convincing case for the discretionary place in Helsinki.
Others - including injured stars like Jenny Meadows - may have to wait with fingers crossed, hoping the selectors both believe that they can improve before London and decide that they can make an impact when they get there.
If that sounds complicated, it reflects the tense, frenetic nature of the entire Trials. Seldom has so much been riding on so many events.
There were athletes who came out of it all with spirits bolstered.
World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene and reigning 400m Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu showed with their dominant victories that they are getting back towards their best; on-form stars like Shara Proctor, Greg Rutherford and Robbie Grabarz underlined their medal potential in difficult conditions; young stars like Andy Pozzi, Lawrence Okoye and Holly Bleasdale confirmed their burgeoning talents.
In places the quality was high. British records for long jumper Proctor and pole vaulter Bleasdale were all the more impressive for the cold, windy weather.
Adam Gemili drapes the British flag round his shoulders after securing an Olympic spot by finishing second in the 100m. Will he take up the place? Picture: Getty
Elsewhere there was sobering evidence that Olympic qualification is only the first step in a far more difficult process.
A day after Chambers won the 100m in Birmingham in 10.25 secs, Justin Gatlin was winning the US Trials in 9.80 secs. 9.93 secs only got you third. With the Jamaican trials next weekend likely to showcase similar times, British sprinters are, on current form, unlikely to even make the Olympic final.
I said there were three categories. That's not quite true. There is a fourth, as abnormal as it is intriguing: those who have automatic qualification, but aren't yet convinced they should take it up.
Adam Gemili's second place in the 100m, a month after going a tenth of a second under the 'A' standard of 10.18 secs, means he is the sole athlete with this unique decision to make.
Less than a year ago, the 18-year-old former Chelsea trainee's sole aim was to make the relay team for the World Junior championships this summer.
Thanks to a brilliant few months, this rawest of talents (he only switched to athletics full-time at the start of the year) now has an opportunity many far more experienced sprinters would kill for. Whether he will take it is another matter.
Gemili himself seemed unsure at the weekend. His coach Michael Afilaka, wary of the problems experienced by other young sprint talents like Asha Philip and Ashleigh Nelson, says the decision is no more than "51-49" in favour of London.
"If you throw him into the cauldron of Olympics and he gets burned then he might never recover," Afilaka says.
"I'm very clear what that competition is and it's brutal - from getting kitted out to walking into the Olympic Stadium. I've been there, seen it, trust me. He's not just a young kid, he's young to athletics. I'm not saying no, but it really has to be a day-by-day decision."
Should he stay, or should he go? London might be calling, but this is one man who may yet not answer.