25 July 2015Jonnie Peacock says London 2012 triumph is at the back of his mind ahead of Olympic Stadium return at Anniversary Games
Jonnie Peacock is explaining his fondness for the Olympic Stadium. 'I love it so much I'd like to pitch a tent on the infield and sleep there,' he says.
It is not difficult to understand why, being the scene of the race which changed his life, a victory in the 100m at the London Paralympics in front of a crowd of 80,000 and a TV audience of millions.
But he will not be thinking of that moment when he is on the start line at the Anniversary Games on Sunday. 'That was a phenomenal experience and a great memory but I've put it in a box and locked it away for now because as an athlete you've got to think about the next one,' he says. 'This race will be much tougher because the event has moved on so much.'
Jonnie Peacock says he will put his 100m London Paralympics triumph to the back of his mind on Sunday
Peacock believesthe legacy of the London Paralympics extends beyond elite running
He is certainly no longer the favourite in the T44 event for single leg amputees. That mantle belongs to American Richard Browne who beat Peacock in all three of their meetings last year, although the Briton was blighted by injury. So far this season, Peacock has only run against able-bodied opposition and is looking forward to reigniting his competitive spark against Browne.
'We're not very friendly,' says Peacock, 'but I don't think it's a bad thing at all, the way our rivalry has brought on this race over the last couple of years is amazing. I look forward to having a good tussle with him when I get on the track.'
The Paralympic element rounds off three days of competition at the Anniversary Games and with 20,000 fans expected it will be the best attended disability athletics event outside the major championships. 'It's hard to say whether the buzz of 2012 has continued,' says Peacock.
'If you look back four years, there were no Paralympic races in Diamond League events but I haven't really been invited to as many as I have previously. I spoke to someone who trains in athletics and he didn't even know there was a Paralympic day this weekend.'
But Peacock, who had his leg amputated aged five after a battle with meningitis, thinks the legacy of the London Paralympics extends beyond elite running to the way disabled people are perceived in everyday life.
Peacock holds onto his gold medal after winning the men's 100m T44 during the London Paralympics
Peacock had his leg amputated aged five after a battle with meningitis but has become a Paralympic champion
FIVE TO WATCH
Sophie Hahn - Women’s T38 100m 2.59pm
Inspired by the London 2012 Games, Hahn, now 18, was T38 100m World champion and world record holder in 2013.
Richard Whitehead - Men’s T42 200m 3.22pm
Won gold in 2012. He has since run 40 marathons in 40 days from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
Hannah Cockroft - Women’s T34 400m 3.57pm
World record holder over 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m. Also a double gold medallist in 2012.
Jonnie Peacock - Men’s T44 100m 4.10pm
Renews rivalry with American Richard Browne and is eyeing a world record.
David Weir - Men’s T54 1500m 4.22pm
The Weirwolf goes head-tohead with Swiss arch-rival Marcel Hug.
'It's not just about professional running,' he says. 'My previous coach Hayley Ginn has set up a company called Carbon Motion and it's about helping amputees of all levels, whether you want to get back walking or jogging to full professional sprinting, which is great because it's not just about the fact of going to the Paralympics — some just struggle to get out to go for a jog. If through me or anyone else it can help give them a bit of confidence then that's fantastic.
'I remember speaking to people after 2012 and they thought people with physical disabilities were not treated so badly. There was a great photo which will stay with me forever of an able-bodied kid who went to a fancy dress party as Dave Weir, they'd built him a little wheelchair, because Dave was this cool idol. I heard of an able-bodied kid saying 'I want a blade' and his mum said: 'you can't have one because you've got two legs'. I think that will have given confidence to so many disabled people out there to be proud of what you've got.'
After London 2012, Peacock moved back to Cambridgeshire but he now lives in Loughborough where he is coached by Steve Fudge alongside training partners Adam Gemili and James Dasaolu, two of Britain's fastest men. He follows a similar training plan but there are unique challenges for amputee sprinters.
'I often get huge blisters where my blade is attached, the size of golf balls round the back of the knee,' he says.
'A few months ago I had one and it was like a cyst underneath. It was really painful and pushing against my socket. You try to train through it, to push through the pain but sometimes you have to listen to your body.'
The pinnacle of the Paralympic season will be the World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Peacock, who has a personal best of 10.84s, thinks searing temperatures will be conducive to quick times, but says talk of amputee sprinters breaking the 10-second barrier is silly.
'It's Impossible to say what some people could run in ten years but I think 10.50s is our equivalent of the 10s barrier.'