■ The double Paralympic champion writes for Metro
IT’S been interesting to see everyone’s reaction to Tokyo 2020 being put back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. For me, it is very good news.
I have been recovering from a knee injury and the news the Paralympics will now take place next August and September means I have almost 18 months to prepare.
I am on my way back and was in need of time in order to get to the startline in Japan but hopefully now I can manage the injury properly and make sure I hit the ground running next year.
Things are not ideal and the world is in a very unusual situation right now. Sport has been put into perspective and quite rightly so.
It’s hard to find a track, with Loughborough high-performance centre closed, and training has become a very solitary pursuit, away from coaches and support teams. I already communicate with my coaches Dan Pfaff and Mike Khmel remotely anyway.
It is down to me to be sensible and not overdo it, not rush my comeback from the problem which caused me to miss last year’s world championships.
As winters go, it was not my finest ever but I’m pleased to say I’m back on track after a horrendous time. For the past six or seven months, I’ve been in injury hell, basically. It all came from the most innocuous stumble in my warm-up at the Great CityGames in Newcastle. I did race but it turned out I had dislocated my patella. Two weeks turned into four, then six. Then it was close to the world championships and we had to make a decision on my participation.
I had no option but to choose to not go as I did one day of training and felt bleeds in the knee for the first time. I eventually had a scan and the doctor needed to get the blood out. It was clear some serious damage had been done.
The surgeons recommended keyhole surgery and a bit of a clean-up of the knee. I remember the drive to have the scan was on the day of the T64 100metres final in Dubai and how I felt. I was talking to myself and not in a good place. It was a dark day, probably one of my worst in sport.
Thankfully the op was a success but the timeline looked like I would be back in full training in May, just three months out from the Paralympics. Any later than that and I’d be struggling for Tokyo.
Even worse, I wasn’t allowed to wear my prosthetic leg for two months so I couldn’t walk. I was hopping around at home, the most injured I’ve ever been. It took a long time to be able to walk again but I am happy to report since then all has gone well and I’m ahead of schedule in my recovery. I’m able to get full acceleration now and up to 60 per cent in training.
This month, I should be back in full training so while I would have been in a race against time to get fully fit and race-sharp for this year, the postponement has given me a massive boost.
I also think it was the right call to delay. You can’t ask athletes to train normally right now, when we’re meant to be self-isolating. We were being asked to put our lives in danger for the Games and you can’t do that. We’ve shown how much we value lives as a society by making sensible decisions, like closing the track.
I may not even be able to race this season at all. At least I know my rivals in Germany, for instance, are in the same situation as I am.
Right now, this means a bit more time on the Xbox, playing against my friends, while I figure out training on a day-to-day basis with help from the app TrueCoach. But crucially, Tokyo is back on for me.
■ Jonnie Peacock is Toyota ambassador for Parasport, a new digital hub to empower disabled people to become more active. It will create a vibrant online community for participants, coaches and parents to seek out new opportunities and share their experiences of the benefits of taking part in physical activity — parasport.org.uk