Q&A: Jonnie Peacock

You won gold back in London 2012. Do you feel like that’s piling the pressure on for Rio?

I don’t think it's piling the pressure on, no. It definitely adds extra pressure, but I try not to let that affect me too much. If anything, I try to help it spur me on. I felt like I had pressure in London, the fact was that I put pressure on myself - I knew I was capable of winning it. I feel like it’s the same thing going into Rio, I know that I’ve got the capability to be the fastest athlete there, so I’ve got to make sure I can do everything I can, to make sure I win a medal.

How's your training been going?

Really well actually. I’ve just come off the back of a four week competition. That was pretty intense and I think I took a lot out of my body, but I think that’s allowed me to go back into training and really hit the sessions hard now. I’m starting to feel like I’m coming back up again. I’m excited to see what I’m capable of.

What does your general training routine look like when you’re not in competition?

It completely varies. Currently I’m only training four days a week but they’re very, very intense. They’re very quite long days - some big intense runs, lots of rest between reps and then in the winter you go back to six days a week and not much rest. You’re kind of flat level - it's less about all out speed at that point, more about conditioning and technique.

Have you had any particular setbacks or injuries in the last few years?

I had a few back in 2013 which put me out for pretty much my whole winter training. Then I had a little abscess on my stump last year that was probably the size of a golf ball at some points, so that caused a lot of problems under my socket. That made me miss quite a lot of time, and unfortunately meant I had to miss all the championships just to make sure I was in good enough form for Rio. But everything seems to have worked out quite well this year, so yeah, we’re getting there.

How do you recover in between your training sessions?

Just chilling out. I eat some good food and sit on my bum and play Xbox all day! Xbox is kind of my chillout zone, it’s where I get to switch off from everything. I don't worry about anything else, switch my brain off and just go through the motions. I probably play it a bit too much!

So if you weren’t a runner, what sort of sport would you like to compete in most?

Football, definitely. I think when I’ve finished the sport I’d love to join a Sunday league football team. I've probably lost a lot of my ability over the last few years, but hopefully I can make up for that with being fast.

I think now that I’ve started athletics, I love it. I think that ’ll always carry on an element of training with me. Athletics has taught me a lot.

How did you get started in running?

I attended a talent identification day in London in search of some disabled athletes and tried a few things out. I tried tennis, shooting, I was going to try cycling but the line was massive - I couldn’t be bothered with waiting in queue because there were only one or two bikes there!

I went out and did a 60m sprint. I wasn’t happy with my first run, so I ended up doing three of them, and on my third one the coach told me I wasn’t going to get any faster so I'd best stop. Because of that, I got an email inviting me down to do some testing and they set me up with a coach at England Athletics. After that, everything spiralled out of control really! I just trained and did what I was told. I was very, very lucky. I feel like I was born into it, it kind of found me.  And I found it.

What does a standard day of food look like for you at the moment?

It varies depending on what I’ve done during the day. If I’ve got quite a big session in the morning I’ll have maybe 3 eggs, a bowl of cereal, and then a fruit and veg smoothie with some protein in it.

I'll have a protein drink or a gel throughout training, plus hydration as well. When I get home, it really depends on what kind of day I've had. On a big day, I'll have spag bol or something at 4 o’clock,  and then at around 8 at night I’ll have something a bit smaller like a salad with salmon.

What’s your ultimate indulgence food when you’ve finished the season?

A huge burger. A burger, full English breakfast, bacon and egg toasted sandwiches... I have lots and lots of chocolate and crisps. All bad things. Anything bad really.

What do you think about the current state of doping in athletics?

I think that it’s improving. And I think that that’s the important thing. What I love about athletics is that we'll tell people when athletes get tested and always be searching for new ways to test people to identify cheats.

I think if you’re cheating, unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re going to get found out at some point. Eventually we'll invent a way of testing for what you’re taking and they will test you with it, and cheats will test positive.

I don’t know completely how true this is, but somebody I’ve got confidence in told me that in the NFL (National Football League in the US) and NBA (National Basketball Association), if athletes get tested positive, they get a warning and then they get a ban. They get a slap on the wrist - “oh you’re taking something bad, stop that”. Apparently they get three strikes, so it's not until that third strike that they’re given a ban. And when they do get a ban, it’s not even that big. The NFL players get banned for like a week, and if they test positive again they get banned for two weeks. If someone tests positive in athletics we’ll tell you.  And then they get banned for four years.

We have tough punishment and good testing.  We probably have the best testing in any sport, to be honest with you. So I think people have this bad feeling about it because of this state of the media - they don’t talk about football, NFL or basketball. In the NFL, someone with a billion pounds in his pocket will come after you if you do.  And there’s not that money in athletics. People don’t sweep it under the rug as much.


Jonnie Peacock is a BT Ambassador. BT is a long-time supporter of disability sport in the UK and the Founding Partner to the British Paralympic Association.