Five Minutes With... Jonnie Peacock

Bouncing on blades and eating too much chocolate, we discover that new Paralympic talent Jonnie Peacock still enjoys his teenage kicks.


Posted: 2 September 2010
by Dominique Brady

Since being discovered just over a year ago, 17-year-old Jonnie Peacock has become one of Britain's brightest new Paralympic talents. Football and rugby used to be the biggest sporting passions for Jonnie, whose right leg was amputated after he contracted meningitis at the age of five. Nowadays running is the only sport on the agenda for the 100m sprinter, whose sights are firmly set on London 2012.

How were you talent spotted?

I went to London just over a year ago for a talent day organised by the British Paralympic Association. You were able to try out different sports and they picked me up from that. After testing you out a bit more, they hook you up with UK Athletics and help you find a coach. That's pretty much how I started running.

Football and rugby used to be two of your biggest passions. Was it strange to change your focus to running?

It's something that I've always really liked but I'd never done that much sprinting before because I never thought I was any good at it. It turns out I'm a lot better than I thought and I'm still really enjoy training even after my first year. In the competitions you get so much adrenaline and it's so raw -you just have to run, and that's what I really like about it.

You finished fifth in the T44 100m event at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May. Not an insignificant achievement at your first international race - were you surprised to place so highly?

If I'm being honest I didn't expect to beat anyone, I thought I'd come last and I was just hoping to get a PB. To get a PB [12:23] and actually beat a couple of people put a smile on my face for quite a while.

And you were racing in the lane next to Oscar Pistorius...

I was more excited than nervous to be honest. It was just great to be see how fast he runs in comparison to me and where he gets all his speed from.

How do you run using a prosthetic blade? Does it create any new challenges?

Obviously I've been running on a normal prosthetic leg for 12 years now, so when I got the prosthetic blade it was really different, even for me. It just had so much more power in it and there was so much more energy coming back. In the beginning it was really hard to control and it used to throw me off a bit, but after a while you learn how to control it and the leg becomes more a part of you. The only tricky thing can be slowing down.

What is your training schedule like?

At the moment it's three times a week but in a couple of weeks it should get pushed up to four sessions a week. Then in a few months it should go up again to five sessions.

As a teenager is it hard to eat healthier when your friends don't have to and to make training the priority?

Well, my diet hasn't changed too much.  I'm still on the crisps and chocolate at the moment but that's another thing that will have to change soon. I still live pretty much a normal life. There are three six-hour training sessions a week which isn't really that much. I still have time to see my mates but obviously I don't stay out until 3am getting drunk - that's probably the only difference.

Where are you next competing?

I've just come back from the Czech Republic [where he took the silver medal in the T44 event in the junior IWAS competition] so I'm not looking to compete too much until next season.

How important is it for you to compete in the 2012 Paralympics?

It's obviously really important to me because I'm never going to get another chance to run in my home country at a Paralympics. I'm hopeful that will be the first Games I qualify for and being involved is something that's really important to me.

Oscar Pistorius has been very vocal in saying he wants compete in the 2012 Olympics. Do you share the same ambition to compete against able-bodied athletes?

I already train with able-bodied athletes and in the winter I'm thinking of entering a few able-bodied 50m indoor sprints. Obviously I'll never be able to run as fast as Mark Lewis-Francis or people like that but I should be able to compete with able-bodied athletes. Ian Foster competes against able-bodied athletes all the time and he's a Paralympic athlete.

What do you hope people take away from watching you on Channel 4's 'Inside Incredible Athletes'?

I want people to realise the Paralympics are just as watchable as the Olympics. People can dismiss the Paralymics but I'm hoping people will engage with the stories in the documentary and realise how exciting it is. Paralympic athletes have to go through the same things as Olympic athletes and often have to overcome even more challenges. Hopefully people will understand the journey Paralympic athletes go through and appreciate the end product.

Paralympics: The Facts

What is the T44 class?

T stands for track and the number 44 refers to the fact that athletes have to compete using a prosthesis and have a single below-the-knee amputation.

How many medals did we win in the Beijing Paralympic Games?

Britain came second in the medal table behind China with a staggering treasure trove of 42 gold medals, 29 silver and 31 bronze. To save your sums that's a total of 102.

When was the first Paralympic Games?

The International Stoke Mandeville Games held in Rome in 1960 are considered to be the first Paralympic Games. Since 1988 the Paralympics were held in the same year and venue as the Olympic Games.


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Discuss this article

Great stuff.
Posted: 03/09/2010 at 17:56

Go for it!  I love the paralympics - really great to see what people can do.
Posted: 07/09/2010 at 18:17

Jonnie Peacock, you really impressed one of my daughter's - Gee she going to kill me for telling RUNNERS WORLD. 

We really enjoyed watching high profile of Paralympics programme on the August Bank Holiday Sunday. - Channel 4 Inside Incredible Athletes.

Please send my regards to Steve Brown, if you see him tell him that

Bromley Veterans Athletics Club says "Hi".

Regards to rest of the Paralympics team and good luck for London 2012

Paralympics - I will be glued to the set rooting for all of you.

Karen Samuel


Posted: 09/09/2010 at 10:37

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