A psychic predicted gold on the track, now Jonnie Peacock could make millions off it

The newly crowned 100m champion is expected to replace Oscar Pistorius as the poster boy for Paralympic sport

Two years ago, a psychic told Jonnie Peacock’s mother that her son would become a Paralympics gold medallist. What the soothsayer failed to add was that the 19-year-old would wake up yesterday as the new all-conquering face of disabled sport and a target for cheque book-waving corporations.

As the Cambridgeshire sprinter basked in the afterglow of his imperious triumph over his fellow bladerunners in the T44 100m with a record time of 10.90 seconds on Thursday night, he downplayed expectations that he will replace his one-time mentor, Oscar Pistorius, as the poster boy of the world’s Paralympians and one of the world’s most famous runners, with or without a prosthetic limb.

He said: “I don’t think my life is going to change much. I will still be going to Nando’s with my mates. I don’t believe I’m going to get recognised like that. I am still going to go below the radar and no-one will know who I am.”

Others, including the leaders of Paralympic sport, have different ideas. There is talk already that the Briton who lost his right leg at the age of five to meningitis and dabbled with ballet before choosing running will follow Pistorius into the world of able-bodied athletics by competing at the 2016 Olympics.

Craig Spence, spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee, said: “Great Britain has a number of new heroes. If you look at our vision, it’s to inspire and excite the world. It doesn’t actually say wherever that inspiring or excitement has to take place. Jonnie, if he was to take part in Rio, we’d have no issue with that, good luck to him.”

With Pistorius’s surrender of his 100m title to the Briton in less than 11 seconds of electrifying sprinting also came a recognition from the  South African, for so long the battling and indomitable spearhead of efforts to convince the world of disabled sport’s technical and emotional parity with its able-bodied equivalent, that its future was encapsulated by Peacock.

Speaking after the race, in which he came fourth, Pistorius said: “We just witnessed one of the great performances from Jonnie. I think he is going to inspire a lot of people in the coming years. The Paralympians are household names now and it makes me proud.”

Probably not as proud as Peacock’s mother, Linda Roberts, who had driven her son to hospital 14 years ago after recognising the tell-tale rash of meningitis and was told by doctors to prepare herself to lose her child as his body fought the meningococcal septicaemia that cost him his leg.

Ms Roberts, 46, who kept from her son the fact that the psychic she consulted after the death of Jonnie’s footballer grandfather had predicted gold, telling him instead it was a silver, said: “A doctor told me my little boy had 48 hours to live and that now was the time to say goodbyes. But I couldn’t. People say he’s wonderful because he’s achieving all these great things but for me he doesn’t have to win a race for me to be proud of him.”

It was not so very long ago that Jonnie’s mother and his step-father were having to grapple with the bureaucracy of the benefits system as they sought to ensure he had every opportunity to conquer his disability.

Such was the young dynamo’s determination to be treated like his classmates, that doctors decided in 2000 that he could move as well as any other seven year old and, as a result, his disability benefit was of £92.25 a week was stopped. It was eventually replaced with a mobility allowance at around half the previous amount after the family appealed.

Financial concerns are unlikely to dog Peacock in the future. Already a brand ambassador for British Telecom and a recent recipient of Lottery funding, the sprinter can expect a number of corporate suitors to be beating path to his door in the coming months.

One sports marketing agent said: “Jonnie has a lot of the key ingredients that made Oscar Pistorius such a hot property. He’s has a fantastic story of  triumph over adversity, he’s eloquent but not boastful and, I’m afraid this helps, he’s a good looking lad. I’m aware of two or three big brands who have him on their shopping list.”

Nevertheless, it is at this point that all comparisons between Peacock, who believes he could one day run the 100m in 10.6 seconds, significantly below his current world record of 10.85, and Usain Bolt begin to unravel.

Whereas Bolt earns around $20m (£12.4m) from endorsements each year, Pistorius, hitherto the global poster boy for the Paralympics and by some distance the best known disabled athlete, makes around $2m.

In a world of narrowing differences between able-bodied and impaired athletes, a yawning divide exists in their marketability. The Independent understands that whereas Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis can expect to earn up to £5m from their Olympian feats, and other gold medalists around £500,000, the likely value of an endorsement for a Paralympian is between £100,000 and £200,000.

Simon Rines, editor of trade monthy Sponsorship Today, said: “From the point of view of a sponsor, the maximum value of backing an athlete is right now. In terms of public exposure, the next time the vast majority of the public are going to see a Paralympian is in four years time. For someone like Jonnie Peacock, the money could well be in areas such as motivational speaking.”

Advertisers said the Paralympics had done much to raise and modify perceptions of disabled sport but warned the reality of sport and marketing left room for the smallest number of global brands.

Alison Hoad, joint head of advertising agency RKCR/Y&R, said: “These games have changed forever the way we look at disability. It’s fantastic that these games will inspire all of us, including sponsors to look for heroes in new places.

However, the gap that exists between the earning power of able-bodied athletes – such as Usain Bolt – and disabled ones - such as Jonnie Peacock -will continue to be much wider than the 1.27 second gap that separated their 100m performances. Ultimately we revere the ultimate. Those who push the record of what any human has ever done ,bar none. There can only be one fastest human on the planet and the whole planet knows his name.“

For moment at least, ending that status quo is not at the top of Peacock’s list of priorities. With the roar of the Olympic Stadium crowd still ringing in his ears, Peacock treated himself to a victory McDonald’s consisting of a chicken burger, 12 nuggets and an ice cream. He tweeted a picture of the feast with the words: "Ohhhhh yeahhh!!!!! Been waiting for this!!!"

Golden boy: Anatomy of an ad man's dream

Running blade

Peacock's hi-tech blade and knee support is supplied by Icelandic prosthetics specialist, Ossur. Other manufacturers, such as official Paralympics supplier Ottobock, may vie to supply to world's fastest bladerunner. £50k

The shoe

The Briton is in the enviable position of having a potential sponsor for each of his legs. His sprint shoe for the Games was supplied by Adidas but other footwear manufacturers will want to offer their products. £10k

The kit

Clad in the official Team GB kit supplied by Adidas, Peacock will have already done much for the German company's image. Rivals such as Nike and Puma will be queuing up to see their logo emblazoned on the sprinter's physique. £100k

The eyes

By name, by nature; Peacock's good looks will not have gone unnoticed by potential suitors. Sunglasses brand Oakley likes to sponsor sports stars (Oscar Pistorius is currently on its books), while fashion labels may well also show an interest in tailoring beyond the track. We await Jonnie's first shoot with Armani. £150k

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine