Mum: “I’m proud to bursting.”

LINDA Roberts, mum of Jonnie Peacock, has told the Citizen of her immense pride for her son.

Linda has watched her son go from being at death’s door with meningitis at the age of five to having 80,000 people chanting his name in the Olympic stadium just 14 years later.

“To hear them chanting his name, it made me silent. It froze me almost. It was a tidal wave of support, crashing over us. It was unbelievable. That made me incredibly proud, before he had even run.

“When he was ill, we knew our lives wouldn’t ever be the same. And yet again, he’s done it to the family.

“It shows you that good stuff does come out of bad. You have to find it and sometimes you have to work really hard to get it, but it’s there.”

The build-up to the Paralympic Games was intense for Jonnie and his family and Linda said they had been so focused on the 100m that little thought had been given to what might happen if he won.

The whole family was thrust into the limelight after Jonnie’s victory as the country’s media clamoured to find out more about the poster boy for the GB Paralympics team.

But to Linda he will always be her little boy, the cheeky “toad” who stole things from his sisters and led her on chases through the house. She joked that even on one leg as a child, she couldn’t catch him.

“He would be the first to admit that as a teenager, he was tough to be a parent to,” Linda said. “He’s always been determined. He’s blinking stubborn. I’m absolutely proud to bursting of him.”

Jonnie’s popularity has been overwhelming and his appeal seems to be universal.

“He’s only 19. Young girls like him, mums adore him, dads are proud of him. There’s an openness about him that makes people feel more involved.

“To hear kids saying the Paralympics are better than the normal Olympics means such a great deal to me. Jonnie represents something.”

Linda has been touched by the response from people and said she has received lots of cards from people in Doddington. She thinks a celebration in the village would be lovely and that Jonnie would be keen to involve the children.

However, with the way things are going, it might be a Christmas party as he is in so much demand at the moment.