4: Jonnie Peacock silences 80,000 people19.09.2014
Before sending them into raptures 10.90 seconds later at London 2012
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“To hear the crowd chant my name was amazing, and that's going to live with me forever. I couldn’t have wished for better.”
It is amazing how less than 11 seconds can change everything.
Just ask Jonnie Peacock.
At London 2012 the British sprinter delivered a performance that not only changed his own life forever, but was arguably the greatest single moment in Paralympic sporting history.
At the start of 2012, the T44 sprinter was a relative unknown. His only major international result was a sixth-placed finish at the 2011 World Championships.
In June 2012, things started to change.
Peacock, then aged 19, ran 10.85 seconds to become the world’s fastest leg amputee.
With a world record under his belt, Peacock started a gradual rise to fame in the lead-up to London 2012, starring in a Channel 4 TV commercial promoting the Games and being talked about as a gold medal prospect.
But few could have predicted what happened next.
When eight athletes lined up for the men’s 100m T44 final – the most anticipated race of London 2012 – the crowd was already drunk with excitement after watching David Weir win his third gold of the Games with a virtuoso performance.
The competition was fierce. Nobody could predict the podium positions, and defending champion Oscar Pistorius and world champion Jerome Singleton were considered outsiders.
Unbelievable tension settled on the stadium as the athletes took to the starting blocks.
But it was broken by a unique moment in sporting history, with 80,000 people chanting “Peacock, Peacock, Peacock”.
The emotion was raw, and every spectator felt part of the race.
London 2012 chief Seb Coe said: “Even the great Usain Bolt doesn’t get his name chanted in the way Jonnie Peacock did. It was spine-tingling stuff.”
Peacock calmed the crowd, somehow coping with the immense pressure with ease.
A stumble by Oliveira on the start line only added to the tension.
Then, as the starting gun sounded, the athletes exploded into a 1.6m/s headwind.
Peacock, however, had a tailwind of 80,000 screaming fans urging him to the finish line.
They need not have worried; he stormed to the front.
With the finish line coming up, Peacock took a sneaky look to his left; there was nobody ahead of him.
A glowing smile replaced the tension in his face. He knew he was going to be Paralympic champion.
Peacock crossed the line 10.90 seconds, a Paralympic record, and the stadium went ballistic.
USA’s Richard Browne took silver, marking the start of his huge rivalry with Peacock, whilst South Africa’s Arnu Fourie claimed the bronze. All eight finishers came in under 12 seconds.
Peacock said: “To hear the crowd chant my name was amazing, and that's going to live with me forever. I couldn’t have wished for better.”