24 Nov 2012

Jonnie Peacock to launch Paralympic open day

The Paralympic poster boy rose to fame during this year’s Games after beating Oscar Pistorius to gold, and now he is helping the BPA to encourage more disabled people to take up sport.

Many Paralympians came out of this summer’s Paralympic Games with great distinction, writes Sports Reporter Jordan Jarrett-Bryan. But after winning gold in the T44 100m, Jonnie Peacock secured his status as the new British bladerunner.

Now he is helping to inspire a new generation of Paralympic athletes by encouraging disabled youngsters to take up sport through ‘sports fest’ – an open weekend event set up by the British Paralympic Association (BPA).

When I met Peacock at the Lee Valley Sports Centre, he told me about the moment he raced to gold: “I crossed the line and then thought, hang on a minute have I won?”

The sportsman is known for kissing the St Christopher’s medal around his neck before every race – a medal that belonged to his grandfather. What thoughts are going through his head before the gun goes off?

“I’m just thinking head low and keep my chin in my chest,” he told me.

Read more: who would you nominate as sporting hero of 2012?

Amputee technique

The difference in technique between an amputee runner and an able-bodied runner is huge – as is the difference between single leg amputees and double leg amputee.

As an amputee myself, I wanted to know the technical stance he has when he’s in the blocks ready to go. “Being a single leg amputee, different things go through different parts of the body, it tends to rock you, so I’m trying to hitch at the hip and pull my right leg through which arches me back a bit,” he said.

Peacock contracted meningitis aged five and had to have his leg amputated. But he never let his disability curb his enthusiasm for sport and took part in a variety of sports as a boy.

Peacock’s story is already inspiring youngsters like four-year-old Rio from Hertfordshire, who had a through-knee amputation at just 14 months. After seeing Peacock win the 100m, Rio soon had a new enthusiasm for sport and a new hero to look up to. Rio tells me that he wants to be a runner when he’s older and even thinks he’ll beat Jonnie in a race.

The British Paralympic Association is inviting anyone with a disability to sports fest on 3 and 4 December at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford.

Attendees will get the chance to meet a host of Paralympians including Jonnie Peacock. Click here to register.