After seeing former Chelsea, Reading and Dagenham and Redbridge trainee Adam Gemili fly through his Olympic heat with a time of 10.11, just behind the third fastest man of all-time, Asafa Powell, it shows that the 18-year-old clearly made the right decision about switching sports. His career looks a promising one and everyone has their fingers crossed for him at London 2012. However, it left us thinking who else in the footballing world could transfer their skills into Olympic sports and we came up with 10 footballers who should consider taking up Olympic events:
1. Ashley Young, Diving
The Manchester United winger is often fond of a tumble or two in the penalty area. He won eight penalties last year, and if we’re being honest, not all of them were perfectly legitimate. Young goes down with a look of shock on his face before rolling around a few times, a move that is likely to impress the diving judges who enjoy a nice bit of artistry in the leap off the platform. Perhaps Young and Tom Daley could form a crack team for Rio in 2016.
2. Theo Walcott, 100m
The England winger is absolutely lightning fast, with his acceleration off the mark known to be his key attribute in matches. Walcott can often terrorise defences if he runs directly at them, but he’s not so accomplished with the ball at his feet. Too often, he’ll merely run it out of play or put in a cross of astonishingly low quality. Therefore, Theo might go better without the ball and just an open track in front of him. A few chicken nuggets and he’s ready to match the man Usain.
3. Dirk Kuyt, Marathon
He may not be the most talented player on the park, but boy does Kuyt put in a shift. He’s left Liverpool this summer for Fenerbahce but the Reds’ fans will always keep the Dutch international close to their hearts for his incredible work rate and never-say-die attitude. It’s time to let Kuyt receive some recognition for his efforts and the marathon would give him that chance, indeed 26 miles is almost the distance he covers per match.
4. Richard Dunne, Wrestling
The burly Aston Villa defender is built like the proverbial you-know-what and loves to spend his time jostling with attackers for position. More often than not, Dunne wins this battle and he currently holds the joint Premier League record for most sendings off ever, tied with Duncan Ferguson with eight. This is because Dunne often launches his opponents to the floor, especially when he’s the last man. And as it happens, launching people to the floor is quite handy in the wrestling.
5. Lomana LuaLua, Gymnastics
The Congo international plied his trade for Blackpool last season, but has now moved on to Turkey where he has joined Karabukspor. Unfortunately, this means England will miss his stupendous displays of acrobatics every time he finds the back of the net. The Bloomfield Road faithful were treated to this four times last season and his routine contains seven back flips and a backwards somersault. Now I’m no gymnastics expert, but surely that’s enough to put you in medal contention?
6. Tim Cahill, Boxing
The Goodison Park crowd will no longer be able to watch the diminutive Cahill pop in the area and bag a header as he’s moved on to New York Red Bulls, but they’ll probably miss his celebration even more. The Aussie’s run to the corner flag to produce that lightning left-right combination on the flag itself is one of the iconic celebrations of the Premier League era and with hand speed like that, Cahill would go pretty well in the lightweight division.
7. Luis Suarez, Handball
The Uruguayan is at the Olympics already, having seen his side knocked out by Team GB in the pool stage of the football, but you have to wonder whether he entered the right competition. Having watched his infamous save on the line against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, he wouldn’t look out of place in the Copper Box taking part in the Handball, where using your hands is the aim of the game.
8. Ashley Cole, Shooting
The Chelsea left back is one of the best in the world, but given the evidence of his performance on the training ground with the air rifle, he would prove more than handy on the range as well. Cole landed himself in a spot of trouble back in 2011 after accidently wounding an intern student at Chelsea’s training ground. Perhaps he should put his talents with weapon in hand to better use.
9. Dimitar Berbatov, 20k race walk
Nobody can quite understand why walking is actually an event at the Olympics, indeed almost everybody is reasonably proficient at walking quickly. However, the race seems perfectly suited to Manchester United’s Bulgarian striker, whose languid style on the pitch has attracted much criticism from the supporters. Competing in a sport where walking rather than running is actually encouraged would therefore be right up Berbatov’s street.
10. Eric Cantona, Taekwondo – The Frenchman was renowned for his brilliance on the pitch and craziness off the field, but he’ll never match that kung-fu kick he produced on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons. Swift, vicious and accurate, Cantona should have considered switching to Taekwondo after his football career ended, as he already possessed one of the main point scoring weapons that the sports demands.