Sprint star Jonnie Peacock declared his exhilarating 100m final a perfect advert for Paralympic sport as he claimed “Long John Silver” was the only one-legged role model during his childhood.
print star Jonnie Peacock declared his exhilarating 100m final a perfect advert for Paralympic sport as he claimed “Long John Silver” was the only one-legged role model during his childhood.
The British amputee’s quest for a glorious hat-trick of Paralympic titles dramatically ended in joint bronze in Tokyo after the first four athletes remarkably crossed the finish line within 0.04 of a second.
Gold went to Germany’s Felix Streng in a time of 10.76 seconds and silver to Costa Rican Sherman Isidro Guity Guity, while Peacock and Johannes Floors endured a agonising wait of more than three minutes before being confirmed as joint occupiers of the final T64 podium position.
Cambridge-born Peacock, who won gold in the T44 class in London and Rio, proclaimed himself “proud” to be a part of a spellbinding evening in Japan, while his reference to the main antagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island highlighted the progress being made in the disability movement.
“If that’s not an advert for Paralympic sport in 11 seconds I don’t know what is,” said the 28-year-old, who posted a season’s best of 10.79 secs.
“It’s a shame that the stadium wasn’t full today because the noise would have been incredible.
“The Paralympics has the ability to change things: 15 per cent of the world is made up of disabled people and we need to be represented. I’m so proud to be a part of it.
“Long John Silver was the only person I saw growing up. We need more representation.
“I’m biased, but I think that’s one of the best races in the Paralympics.
“This event, it’s getting faster and faster every five years now. I expect it to keep going that way. I think the world record is going to be broken very very soon.”
The names of Streng and Guity Guity immediately flashed up on the scoreboard at the National Stadium in the humid Japanese capital.
But there was a lengthy, nail-biting delay to see who would join the top two in the medal positions as the photo finish was scrutinised.
Eventually – and almost a month on from Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Muta Essa Barshim of Qatar sharing high jump gold at the Olympics – there was nothing to split Peacock and German Floors, with each deemed to have clocked precisely 10.786 secs.
Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Peacock was bemused by the unfamiliar situation and had mixed feelings on his final position having been strongly placed with 40 metres to go.
He said: “I didn’t think you could share medals in sprints, has this ever happened?
“To share the bronze medal with Johannes I’m so happy, he’s a great guy. Gusi Gusi what a breakthrough performance there and Felix has had a great season and he’s topped it off with a gold medal.
“These guys have been running some incredible times this year.
“The other side of me, after I’d watched it back, was really annoyed. I was in a really good position at 60 metres.
“I just got caught up in the moment. These things happen. All I can do is take full responsibility, it was me, it was my mistake.
“That’s what sport should be about though: you make a mistake in the Paralympic final, you should be made to pay for it.”
Peacock, who endured hamstring trouble earlier this year and suffered a serious knee injury in 2019, initially took a mental break following the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil.
He is back in the GB team for the first time since he won gold at the 2017 World Championships and his appearance on BBC show Strictly later that year.
“Strictly was an amazing opportunity, I’ve never been as nervous in my life as I was in that first dance, my heart was in my mouth,” said Peacock, who had his right leg amputated below the knee aged five after contracting meningitis.
“Out here I’m so chilled but get me on a dance floor and I’m bricking it, it’s a change of underwear.
“I’ve come back from a few injuries this year. Next year is going to be big. I know what I am capable of. All I can say is I’m really looking forward to next year, and Paris (Paralympics) is only three years away.”
Earlier, British wheelchair racer Andrew Small grabbed gold after blitzing his rivals in the men’s T33 100m final.
The 28-year-old powered out of the blocks and claimed victory in a time of 17.73 secs.
His blistering start proved crucial as defending champion Ahmad Almutairi of Kuwait threatened to snatch victory by closing the sizeable gap, only to cross the line a tenth of a second behind.
Small’s success was an upgrade on the bronze he won behind Almutairi in Rio, with third place on this occasion going to his GB team-mate Harri Jenkins in a season’s best 18.55secs.
Another Briton, James Freeman, finished fourth of the five racers in 19.69secs.
Six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir and GB team-mate Danny Sidbury each qualified for the final of the men’s T54 1500m, while Columba Blango progressed from the T20 400m heats.
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