Athletics: Proud Jonnie Peacock reveals that sporting brilliance does run in the family


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The Independent Online

Jonnie Peacock is not the first gifted sportsman to emerge from his family. "No," the Cambridge teenager reflected yesterday, the morning after his victory in the T44 Paralympic 100m final, "my grandad played football for Everton and Liverpool.

"He was John Roberts. He was known as 'Johnny Boy.' He actually quit football to become a painter. I'm not too sure about all of the details because he died a couple of months before I was born."

Still, it transpired yesterday that 'Johnny Boy' had an influence on Jonnie's show-stealing victory in the battle of the Blade Runners on Thursday night. After winning the blue riband event of the Games in 10.90sec, a Paralympic record, with Oscar Pistorius out of the medals in fourth place, Peacock scanned the faces in the delirious 80,000 crowd to find his mother, Linda Roberts.

She told the 19-year-old that she had deliberately lied to him about a message from his late grandfather, via a medium.

"She went to see a psychic a few years ago and she told me then that my grandfather had said, via the psychic, 'He'll go to the Paralympics and he'll get silver'," Peacock said. "She told me last night that she had lied because she didn't want me to know at the time. She said that the psychic had actually told her that my grandfather actually said that I was going to go to the Paralympics and win a gold medal."

Peacock, who had his right leg amputated because of meningococcal septicaemia at the age of five, was uncertain where his mother was sitting and spent his lap of honour of the Olympic Stadium seeking her. He found her by the long-jump pit on the back straight.

"She was the one person I wanted to see after the race," Peacock said. "I wanted to give her a massive hug. She was in tears. I think she would've been in tears even if I'd been last, just because of how far I've come since I was five. She was just so proud."

Peacock also told of how, while his mother was pregnant, a blind man touched her stomach, predicting that he would be blond with blue eyes. "It's hard to believe in things you can't see," the blond-haired, blue-eyed East Anglian said. "I'm a very factual person. I'm a maths and science guy."

The fastest amputee on the planet revealed that Pistorius had taken him to one side after the heats on Wednesday night and asked him whether he also happened to be a religious guy. "I told him that I was a little bit," Peacock said. "And then he asked 'Do you mind if I pray for you?' He told me to go out there and do my country proud before saying a prayer in Afrikaans.

"I've got so much respect for that guy. After the race I just gave him a huge hug. And he said to me, 'I told you you'd do it'."

Peacock did not get to sleep until 3am yesterday, having celebrated his victory with a junk-food gorge after months of counting the calories.

"I'm still running off the adrenalin," Peacock said. "I've had three hours' sleep.

"I had a well-earned McDonald's when I got back to the village. I had a Chicken Legend, 12 chicken nuggets and a Wispa Gold McFlurry. No fries. I'm not a big fan of them. With those nuggets I was still in athlete mode thinking about the protein."

And about what fuelled Usain Bolt to Olympic sprint glory in Beijing and London, no doubt.

GB Roll of Honour: Yesterday's medals

Gold (1)

Athletics: Women's Discus Throw F51/52/53: Josie Pearson

Bronze (3)

Cycling: Women’s Individual H1-3

Road Race: Rachel Morris

Wheelchair Tennis: Women’s

Doubles: Lucy Shuker & Jordanne Whiley

Table Tennis: Men’s Team Class 6-8: Will Bayley, Ross Wilson, Aaron