Peacock raises roof after leaving Pistorius in shade


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The Independent Online

"Peacock! Peacock! Peacock!" The 80,000 crowd in the London 2012 showpiece arena chanted Jonnie Peacock's name so loudly last night that the start of the Paralympic T44 100m final was delayed. They took up the chant again after a faulty start caused a further delay.

There was a time when Usain Bolt was the 100m runner's name on everybody's lips on this particular patch. Even when the Lightning Bolt struck with his Olympic sprint double, and anchored home the Jamaican 4 x 100m relay team in world record time, the London crowd never afforded him such acclamation.

Peacock did them all proud in a sprint clash that had more than a touch of the Bolt v Blake about it. The 19-year-old amputee from Cambridge shot out of his starting blocks and into the nation's hearts, tearing down the home straight to victory in the blue riband event of the 2012 Paralympics.

In the battle of the Blade Runners, the young British musketeer cut the opposition to shreds.

Oscar Pistorius could not get close to him. The South African Paralympic trailblazer was run out of the medals, finishing fourth in 11.17sec. Alan Oliveira, the Brazilian who caused such a stir by beating Pistorius in the 200m last Sunday, and Jerome Singleton, the 100m world champion from the United States, were also out of the medals, finishing seventh and sixth respectively.

Peacock crossed the line a clear winner in 10.90sec, a Paralympic record. Richard Browne of the US was second in 11.03sec, with Pistorius' South African team-mate Arnu Fourie taking bronze in 11.08sec.

The chant echoed around the arena again as the victorious teenager set off on his lap of honour: "Peacock! Peacock! Peacock!" "It's just surreal," Peacock reflected later. "I knew the atmosphere was going to be intense but I didn't think the crowd would be that crazy. I had to tell them to be quiet at the start and calm them down. It was just incredible."

It was that. Britain's Olympic track and field athletes had their Super Saturday, when Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and the long jumper Greg Rutherford, one of Peacock's training partners, won three golds in the space of 45 minutes. Last night, on Thrilling Thursday for Britain's Paralympians, Peacock clinched the third home gold in an hour and 45 minutes, following Hannah Cockroft and David Weir.

The great British Paralympians now have nine athletics golds, and 27 medals in total, with three days of competition still remaining. "I am so proud to be British and to be part of this Thursday night," Peacock said. "It's inspirational."Peacock is now undisputedly the fastest amputee on the planet – the T44 100m world record holder and Olympic champion. He drew a fulsome tribute from Pistorius, the Paralympic pioneer who ran in the Olympic 400m semi-finals here last month.

"What we've seen tonight is the start of an amazing Paralympics sprinter," Pistorius said. "I've just been watching it on the screen again and it was a great performance.

"I can't imagine how happy Jonnie must be to do this in front of his home crowd. Well done. It's a great time for him. He's still young and he's got a great future ahead of him."

Peacock lost his right leg below the knee after contracting meningococcal septicaemia at the age of five. His speed was spotted at a talent identification day held by the British Paralympic Association at London's Mile End Stadium four years ago. For the past 12 months he has been training as a full-time athlete at the UK Athletics National Performance Centre at Lee Valley in north London, under the direction of Dan Pfaff.

Pfaff guided Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey to Olympic 100m gold in Atlanta in 1996 and the American coach had a gold medal success at the 2012 Olympics in the shape of Rutherford. Peacock trains alongside Rutherford in a group that also includes British pole vault record holder Steve Lewis.

"It was absolutely brilliant when Greg won his gold medal," he said. "I was just so happy for what he achieved. He deserved it. He's a hard worker.

"I've been in that group just under a year now. Dan's probably had enough time to sort me out and get me moving forward."

As for Pistorius, he might be the most celebrated Paralympian on the planet but at these 2012 Games he has yet to live up to the name given to him in a cartoon strip in The Beano. He has only been "Oscar Victorious Pistorius" with the help of his three South African team-mates in the 4 x 100m relay.

Still, the chances are that he will find his winning individual touch in the 400m, his specialist event. "I'm desperate for that," he confessed. "I'm looking forward to the 400m."