17 March 2015Jonnie and his mum on their special relationship
HER STORY Linda Roberts, 47, disability campaigner
Jonnie was a gorgeous little blue-eyed boy. He was stubborn and energetic, but cuddly and affectionate and, as my first son, there was an instant, deep bond between us.
When the doctors put him in a coma, aged five, to fight the meningitis they told me to say goodbye. I refused. Four days later when they said he would live, my biggest fear was that he wouldn’t be the boy he’d been, but he was.
He lost his right leg, which had been ravaged by septicaemia, but as long as we still had our connection, I knew the rest of it we could deal with.
When he came out of theatre after the amputation still groggy on anaesthetic he temporarily blamed me, shouting: “You gave me the wrong Calpol,” then blanked me. He wouldn’t let me hold him, be near him or even look at him. It was an unbearably heartbreaking, lonely feeling. Then something changed overnight and he just wanted me close to him. But that moment of rejection was indescribably painful.
Mollycoddling Jonnie wasn’t an option. We knew there was a big tough world out there, so we pursued normality and found solutions to any problems. He’s always been determined – he can be bloody minded and very black and white – so I had no doubts he’d succeed in athletics. When he came over to hug me after winning gold in London I felt fireworks inside, but I would still trade that medal for him not to go through what he has.
I forgive him for not phoning as often as he could. I know from the way he hugs me when we are together that our bond is as strong as ever.
HIS STORY Jonnie Peacock, 21, sprinter and Paralympian
My mum is the most selfless, inspirational woman I’ve ever met. She’ll give until there’s nothing left in the tank.
I have very few memories from before my leg was amputated – my real memories begin from five onwards. Mum was always there, but she never wrapped me up in bubble wrap. She just gave me the tools to fix whatever I needed to myself. She tried to make my life as normal as possible and never let me get away with anything.
I used to kick my prosthetic leg off to get out of doing the washing up and she’d just pull up a chair and go, “There, do it on that.” She used to tell me I’d find it more painful not joining in at school than joining in so I’d play football till my stump hurt, but she was right – it was less painful than sitting on the sidelines.
The resilience she helped instil in me has been invaluable in my athletics. Since I moved down to London as a 17-year-old I probably haven’t phoned her as much as I should, but we’re still incredibly close. I can speak to her about literally anything and I know she feels the same.
She’s followed my career from day one and sacrificed so much ferrying me to events and training. Before the 2012 Games she said this psychic told her that she’d seen me, London and something silver. I was like, “Why silver? Why not gold?”
After I won the final, Mum said the psychic had actually seen gold, but she knew that by saying silver that would make me want to work even harder. But that’s Mum. She always knows how to play me.
Jonnie is a Sainsbury’s Active Kids ambassador (sainsburys.co.uk)