“I feel like I am the faster runner, but he [Peacock] knows the 100m, and the 100m is quick, and Jonnie is very powerful.
American Blake Leeper has issued a challenge to the 100m T44 Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock ahead of this weekend’s BT Great CityGames in Manchester, suggesting the British athlete may not have it all his own way in front of home crowds.
The two will line-up over 100m on Saturday (25 May) and, speaking after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics Grand Prix event in Arizona last weekend, double Paralympic medallist Leeper said: “I think I can [beat him], but I’m going to have to prove that and back it up on the track!
“I feel like I am the faster runner, but he [Peacock] knows the 100m, and the 100m is quick, and Jonnie is very powerful. He’s going to get out [the blocks] on me but I hope I have enough time to go catch him.
“I'm certainly going to be prepared to be really competitive.”
Double leg amputee Leeper won bronze and silver in 200m and 400m T44 events in London where he says the crowds encouraged him to push his performances to new levels. He expects this weekend to be no different.
“I love coming to the UK – I loved running in London,” said Leeper who last year equalled the 100m T43 world record with a time of 10.91, 0.6 seconds slower than Peacock’s T44 word record for single leg amputees.
“I ran seven races at the Paralympics in London and every race was sold out. You could feel the love and the energy from the crowd, so going back to the UK, I'm just so excited,” added the 23 year-old.
Leeper is also buoyed by the chance to race at a free-to-spectate street meeting for the first time.
“I've watched so many of these street races on television…It’s going to be pretty cool. The best place I've ever performed was the Paralympic Games in 2012, what with the atmosphere, but I think this might be pretty close to that as I know the crowd are going to be amazing.”
Both men will be looking to make their mark at the Manchester city centre track. Peacock has not competed since his 100m T44 victory in the Olympic Park last September, whilst Leeper is looking to make amends for a disappointing performance in Arizona whilst coming back from a hamstring injury.
They will line up against London 100m bronze medallist Arnu Fourie and Dutchman Ronald Hertog, the T44 javelin thrower turned sprinter.
London 2012 200m T44 gold medallist Alan Oliveira will also be in action over his favoured distance against Fourie, who will double up over the sprints, American David Prince and German David Behre.
On the women’s side, a long jump competition in the city’s Albert Square will pit Australia’s Paralympic champion in the T42 event, Kelly Cartwright, against her British rival and London 2012 silver medallist Stef Reid. They will be joined by Italy’s 100m T42 gold medallist Martina Caironi and Iris Pruysen of the Netherlands.
Reid and Pruysen will also race over 100m event, where Dutch ‘Blade Babe’ Marlou Van Rhijn, the London 2012 T44 silver medallist, will start as favourite. Britain’s Sophie Kamlish will complete the line-up.
The BT Great CityGames Manchester will take place on Saturday the 25th May on an IAAF certified, purpose built track and pop-up athletics arena in the city centre. All events are completely free to spectate and no tickets are required.