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

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss