Jonnie Peacock went from an unknown to a household name, holding a pair of 100m Paralympic titles and starring in the Netflix documentary 'Rising Phoenix' released on August 2020.
His quest for a hat-trick of 100m gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics perhaps would be his toughest challenge. He could not defend his World Championship title at the 2019 edition in Dubai, UAE, pulling out due to a knee injury. But history says he remains a tough contender.
He has won Paralympic, world and European sprint titles between 2012 and 2014, and safely retained his Paralympic crown at Rio 2016.
Born in Cambridge in 1993, he had his right leg amputated below the knee aged five after contracting meningitis. Inspired by watching the Beijing Paralympics, he attended a British Paralympic Association talent identification programme soon after and in no time was competing in major events, finishing fifth over 100m T44 at the 2011 World Championships.
Peacock made a name for himself in 2012 as he was crowned Paralympic champion in front of his home crowd - going from relative unknown to household name. At the end of June that year, the then 19-year-old became the world’s fastest amputee sprinter when he won the US trials in 10.85 seconds. His time was 0.06 seconds faster than the previous T44 record set in 2007.
Peacock followed up that impressive performance weeks later by taking Paralympic gold in front of an 80,000-strong crowd. His time of 10.91 was a Paralympic record, however what was more impressive was the field of athletes he beat whilst under immense pressure to secure a home gold for Great Britain.
Going into the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France, Peacock faced strong competition from US sprinter Richard Browne, especially after the American broke his world record in the semi-final with a time of 10.83.
Browne said he wanted to knock Peacock off his pedestal, but the Briton kept his cool and clinched gold in a thrilling final.
In 2014, Browne had the upper hand over Peacock, beating him in every head-to-head that year. Still, Peacock notched up another major title with victory at the European Championships in Swansea, Great Britain.
The stage was set for a thrilling showdown between Peacock and Browne at the 2015 World Championships, but sadly just weeks before the competition Peacock withdrew injured.
The Briton returned to action in time for the 2016 European Championships in Grosseto, Italy, where he retained his title with a new championship record (10.88).
US sprinter Jarryd Wallace looked to be Peacock’s main rival for Paralympic gold having shown impressive form in the early part of the season, before beating Peacock to the line at the Grand Prix Final in London, Great Britain in July.
But in the pressure cauldron of the Paralympic final it was Peacock who kept his cool, sprinting home to a second consecutive 100m T44 title, equalling his own Paralympic record from the heats with a time of 10.81.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
In September 2015 he revealed a sore on his leg meant he would be unable to compete at the 2015 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. (bbc.co.uk, 17 Sep 2015)
He carried a back injury into the 2014 season that affected his performances. (bbc.co.uk, 19 Nov 2014)
He underwent an operation on his ankle following the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He returned to training in March 2013. (guardian.co.uk, 23 May 2013)
He was named Disabled Sports Performer of the Year at the 2016 Living Sport Awards in St Ives, England. (wisbechstandard.co.uk, 25 Nov 2016)
He was named Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in the 2013 New Year's Honours list. (glamourmagazine.co.uk, 29 May 2013)
He featured in the 2020 documentary film 'Rising Phoenix', which highlighted the stories of Paralympic athletes and their journey through the sport. "I was so excited at that first meeting. Their vision for it, what they wanted to do with it. How they were going to do it properly. I just jumped at it. It was incredible. I have always been of the mindset, 'Don't treat me as disabled. I will show you what I can do and we'll have fun with it'." (telegraph.co.uk, 25 Jul 2020)
In early 2021 one of his carbon fibre running blades was among the first exhibits to feature in the virtual Museum of Engineering Innovation. The museum, which works using QR codes placed in various locations around the United Kingdom, was set up as part of 'This is Engineering Day' to celebrate engineering accomplishments and inspire future engineers. "Whenever I wear my blade I get such a great response, particularly from children, able-bodied and disabled, who think it's really cool. I'd like them to know that I wouldn't be where I am today and have this super cool prosthetic leg if it wasn't for engineers and amazing feats of engineering, which is why I am supporting This is Engineering Day, to help demonstrate some of the many different ways engineering makes a difference and to inspire the engineers of the future." (fenlandcitizen.co.uk, 11 Nov 2020; ciht.org.uk, 21 Jan 2021)
In 2017 he appeared on the British version of the competition television show 'Strictly Come Dancing', lasting nine weeks on the programme before being voted off. "Getting the opportunity to be the first disabled person to take part in the show was too big an opportunity to turn down. There was a lot I really wanted to push on that front. I wanted to go out there, show a blade one week and show kids that it can be cool. But I also wanted to put a pair of trousers on and, to people who perhaps don't know me, make them question which person was the disabled one. Question what an amputee could achieve. Could they lift? Could they do a Viennese Waltz? It's a different audience to the one that watches athletics so I wanted to change perceptions with that." (telegraph.co.uk, 01 Dec 2017)
In late 2017 he revealed he was taking an extended break from the sport. He had planned the time away to refresh himself mentally prior to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. "I took the decision to have 2018 off years ago after seven years of back-to-back seasons when sport was my be-all and end-all. In elite sport you never really switch off - what you eat, what you drink and when you go to bed matters - so it's been nice to not have to think about those things. Taking that mental break was a big thing. I'm just enjoying it all again." (paralympics.org.uk, 02 Aug 2019; athleticsweekly.com, 15 Jul 2019)
|Men's 100 m T44||Heat 3||2011-01-25||2|
|Men's 100 m T44||Final||2011-01-26||6|
|Men's 100 m T44||Heat 1||2012-09-05||1|
|Men's 100 m T44||Final Round||2012-09-06||1|
|Men's 100 m T44||Semifinal 1||2013-07-22||2|
|Men's 100 m T44||Final 1||2013-07-23||1|
|Men's 100 m T44||Heat 1||2016-09-08||1|
|Men's 100 m T44||Final Round||2016-09-09||1|
|Men's 100 m T44||Final 1||2017-07-16||1|
|Men's 100 m T44||Heat 1||2017-07-16||1|