UEL at the Tokyo Olympics
University heroes jet off to Japan
It was on and off seemingly several times. But it’s here. Welcome to Tokyo 2020 in 2021 with the University of East London (UEL) strongly represented by two genuine medal contenders in track and field: Adam Gemili in the Men’s 200m and Jona Efoloko in the Men’s 4X100m Relay.
UEL’s roll of honour encompasses many sports at the Olympic Games over the years. From judoka Gemma Gibbons taking the silver medal at London 2012 to Bianca Williams winning bronze in the Women’s 4X100m Relay at Rio 2016, we also count boxers, such as Lawrence Okolie and swimmers, such as Aimee Willmott, in the ranks of our heroes.
UEL is a fully established top 10 UK university for track and field, with a successful record in sprint and hurdle events. At the British University Championships (BUCS) in 2019, we finished fifth overall in the indoor championships.
Adam Gemili, 27, pictured left, studied Sport & Exercise Science with Human Biology at UEL. Graduating in 2015, he wrote a dissertation on the effects of specific warm-up exercises on sprint performance. He competed in the Men’s 100m Semi-Final and Men’s 4x100m Relay Semi-Final at London 2012, aged 18.
Missing out on a Men’s 200m medal by 0.003 seconds at Rio 2016, Adam qualified for a third Olympics after clocking a time of 20.63 seconds into a strong headwind in Manchester in June. He said, “I’m on the plane to Tokyo, so I’m super happy. I’ve got five weeks to make sure I get it right.”
Although focussing on the 200m, Adam could also run in the 100m. Quarter- and Semi-Finals for the 200m start at 3:05am (all times BST) and 12:50pm respectively on 3 August. The 200m Final takes place at 1:55pm on 4 August.
Jona Efoloko, 21, pictured right, is part of the Team GB Men’s 4 X 100m Relay team.
He became Men’s World U20 Champion at 200m a matter of weeks after finishing his ‘A’ levels. He says,“You just never know with sport. It’s a tough industry and only a few make it so having a plan B – based on education – is important.”
He studied Marketing at UEL, graduating in June 2021. For Jona, it might be a medal ceremony in Tokyo in August and a graduation ceremony in London in September.
Qualifying races for the Men’s 4 X 100m Relay start at 3:30am on 5 August. The Final is at 2:50pm on 6 August.
The Tokyo Olympics runs from 23 July to 8 August. The Paralympics runs from 24 August to 5 September with two more UEL representatives competing. Ali Jawad, Men’s Para power-lifter, is already named in the squad with Vanessa Wallace, Women’s Para shot, expected to be named imminently.