GALLERY: Doddington’s new hero Jonnie Peacock, 19, wins gold at London 2012 Paralympic Games
HE nearly died from meningitis aged five, but today Jonnie Peacock is waking up as a Paralympic champion and Doddington’s new golden boy.
The 19-year-old won the hearts of the nation last night when he stormed to victory in the T44 100m at London 2012.
With the pressure of an expectant Great Britain mounting on a teenager from the Fens, Peacock held his nerve in emphatic fashion.
He clocked 10.90secs - a new Paralympic record - to power ahead of silver medallist Richard Brownie and Arnie Fourie, who claimed the bronze. Peacock’s boyhood hero, racing rival and great friend Oscar Pistorius could only manage fourth place.
The crowd, who erupted as their new hero crossed the finish line, chanted his name as he completed a lap of honour. The level of support was so high in the Olympic Stadium that Peacock himself had to encourage the crowd to be quiet before the race.
Millions watched on Channel4 as Peacock was interviewed for the first time after the biggest win of his life.
He told reporters that his performance was “not bad” and, when asked to analyse the race, he said: “At about 60m I started to think ‘oh crap I’m in the lead!’”.
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The humble teenager chose to spend a large proportion of his moment in the limelight thanking those who had helped him reach the Paralympics.
He lavished praise on his coach Dan Pfaff and thanked his family, friends, sponsors, physios and even those who contributed to his funding by buying lottery tickets.
“It’s absolutely surreal,” he said. “This Games will definitely leave a legacy and to be part of that is amazing.”
Asked about the crowd, he said: “I didn’t think it was going to be quite that crazy. I was thinking ‘who is going to get the biggest cheer Oscar or me?’”
Last night’s performance lays the foundations for what could be an extraordinary career, with Pistorius himself hailing Peacock’s victory as “the start of a fantastic sprinter”.
It is all a far cry from that day 14 years ago when his mum dashed to Addenbrooke’s with him, his red raw rash and high temperature correctly diagnosed by her as possible meningitis.
Agonising days followed during which he was initially put into an induced coma but the loss of blood pressure in his right leg prompted the realisation that an amputation was necessary.
Soon Jonnie had his first prosthetic fitted and the rest, as they say, is history.
Spotted at a talent day four years ago, he was coached at Cambridge before being absorbed into mainstream athletics. He competed at a succession of track events that culminated this summer when he smashed the world record.
And last night, Jonnie had the world at his feet.
So, how would Doddington’s new golden boy reward himself? In the early hours of today, he tweeted a picture of a hefty McDonald’s meal alongside the words: “Ohhhhh yeahhh!!!!! Been waiting for this!!!”
You deserve it, Jonnie.