TEENAGER Jonnie Peacock (pictured) wrote himself into the Paralympic history books on Thursday night by winning the showpiece event, the 100m, and breaking the Games record.
He beat his South African hero Oscar Pistorius, the “Blade Runner”, in the most eagerly-awaited event of the London Games and led from the front to land the gold medal in a new Paralympic best time of 10.90 seconds in the T44 100m final.
World record holder Peacock, a below-knee amputee who grew up in Doddington and is currently a Cambridge student, had already become one of the faces of the Games by featuring heavily in broadcaster Channel 4’s promotional coverage as a BT Ambassador.
He confirmed his superstar status by appearing totally in control of the night, even signalling the feverish crowd for silence, before bursting from the blocks to lead from start to finish.
It was billed as the “Battle of the Blades”, Pistorius versus Peacock, but the latter left the rest of the field in his wake, beating unfancied USA newcomer Richard Browne who had to be content with silver in the packed 80,000-crowd Olympic Stadium.
The 19-year-old said after his Golden sprint: “It was absolutely surreal. I knew the crowd would be intense. In this race I nailed it.
“I’ve been running very quick in training. I just had to remind myself: Deep breaths, head down.
“After about 60 metres I thought: ‘Oh crap, I’m in the lead’. These Games are definitely a legacy.”
Pistorius, who was edged out of the medals by compatriot Arnu Fourie, was the first to congratulate Peacock, adding: “He is still young and has got a great future ahead of him.
“As I pass the baton over to Jonnie, I wish him all the best.”
Olympic athletes and other figures from the world of sport were quick to heap praise on the teenager. One of them was London 2012 gold medal winner Mo Farah, who on Twitter said: “Awesome, well done son.”
Peacock joined the likes of Hannah Cockroft and “Weirwolf” David Weir in a Golden day for Great Britain’s athletes that will be remembered for years to come.
Peacock’s gold medal was presented by Sir Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee, who represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball.
The Paralympic poster boy had won his heat the previous night to reach the final as the fastest qualifier. He eclipsed American Jerome Singleton and Brazilian Alan Fonteles Oliveira, who had shocked Pistorius in the 200m.
Peacock recorded 11.08secs, equalling the Paralympic record which he broke the following night. Pistorius won the second heat.