17 September 2012Jonnie Peacock and Adam Gemili are going places fast
For I had forgotten what Gemili had not, namely that this was the summer when Paralympic performances ceased to be, to use that horribly condescending word, worthy but rather commensurate to performances by able-bodied athletes.
"Jonnie trains at Lea Valley, where I train, and I see the work he puts in," Gemili, 18, tells BBC Sport. "It's twice as hard for Paralympians. Most people in Jonnie's situation would have given up but he didn't. Now he's a Paralympic champion."
Peacock, 19, holds the distinction of being the only athlete, Olympic or Paralympic, to have his name chanted by the crowd in the Olympic Stadium. So delirious were they before his T44 100m final that he had to shush them to quieten them down.
Gemili targets 2016 medal
"That was a bit weird, but it was great fun," says world record-holder Peacock. "Hopefully, people view the Paralympics differently now. People weren't looking at it and thinking, 'bloody hell, these blokes have got no legs,' they were thinking, 'bloody hell, that was a close race, that was tense.' That was amazing to hear.
"I used to feel patronised but this Paralympics has changed people's perceptions and views. We're no longer felt sorry for, people aren't trying to dig for the back story.
"I've done one or two interviews about what happened to me when I was younger but everyone else is asking me about now. We're heading in the right direction."
Where Gemili is heading is more difficult to ascertain. "Hopefully, we're not going to have another broken junior," is Peacock's wry assessment, the Cambridge athlete being acutely aware that global success as a teenager rarely translates as emphatically to the senior ranks, at least as far as British sprinters are concerned.
Christian Malcolm, who won 100m and 200m gold at the World Juniors Championships in 1998, and Mark Lewis-Francis, who won 100m world junior gold in 2000, are two British juniors who never reached the same heights in the big boys' league. The injury-prone Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, who won 100m world junior gold in 2006, is currently discovering exactly how turbulent the transition can be.
"The potential has always been there but maybe in the past the progression into the seniors was rushed and not done right," says Gemili, a former Chelsea youth player who only took up athletics training full-time in January of this year.
"Christian, Mark and Harry were all at the Olympics, I spoke to them about what did and didn't go right and hopefully I'll learn from it. I don't want to be peaking at 18."