“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time – I’ve been so excited for it to be back in the stadium."
Five years ago at the London Stadium, Jonnie Peacock was roared home to Paralympic gold in one of the most memorable nights of Para athletics for British fans.
Now, the 24-year-old is preparing to bring the crowds to their feet once more as he looks to reclaim the 100m T44 world title at July’s World Para Athletics Championships.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time – I’ve been so excited for it to be back in the stadium. We do a Games right here in this country, we put on a really good show and I’m really just excited to see that,” said Peacock.
The good news for British fans hoping of a repeat of that winning performance of 2012 is that Peacock believes he’s now in the shape of his life.
“It feels to me like I’m in the best situation that I’ve ever been in,” explained Peacock, who opened his season with a wind-assisted 10.86 seconds in early May, before going on to clock 10.76 seconds at the Loughborough International two weeks later.
“I’ve already ran quicker this time in the season than I have ever. I think this time last year I ran 11.2 and I’ve already ran 10.7, so the times and the training seem to say that I’m in a good place.”
Peacock won his first world title in 2013, but injury ruled him out of competition two years later in Doha, Qatar – a race that US sprinter Richard Browne went on to win.
The pair had gone head-to-head not long before the 2015 World Championships – first in Brussels, Belgium, when Browne false started, then in Newcastle, Great Britain – a race which Peacock won.
The rivalry and antagonism between Peacock and Browne was already well established, so when Browne went on to win global gold with a new world record to boot, Peacock’s disappointment was intensified.
It’s a result that has only served to drive him on even more this year.
“It was really hard to miss Doha and it was really tough. It was doubly tough knowing that we had those two races to race Richard in Brussels and Newcastle just before we went and he false started in Brussels.
“I realised before Brussels when we attacked something different in training and it seemed to work, so I was really ready to race him over the two days.
“Then I raced him in Newcastle and I beat him and put an end to that two-year undefeated thing that he kept going on about, so I knew that I could’ve been there or thereabouts in Doha.
“The conditions out there were fantastic. In sprinting we all know now, the hotter the better. It was really tough to miss.”
This time however it seems that Browne will be the absentee, after failing to race at the US National Trials earlier this month. The US team was subsequently announced – with no Browne.
Still, Peacock is not letting his guard down yet. He is well aware that there is still stiff competition.
US sprinter Jarryd Wallace opened his season with 10.93 seconds, while Germany’s T43 Para athlete Johannes Floors recently set a new European record in Paris, clocking 10.98 seconds.
“A lot of guys are ready to run well this season. It’s going to be different to the seasons before where I think people ran well earlier on and then not too well at the championships.
“Anyone can turn up and that’s the thing you’ve got to remember. There are three or four guys I’m looking at that are capable of running fast.
“You’ve got to be ready for anybody coming out of nowhere in this sport. I know that I did that myself in 2012. We might get someone new come through out of nowhere that we haven’t seen before.”