It’s a case of gold or bust for Jonnie Peacock when the World Para Athletics Championships head to the capital this summer – with the 23-year-old determined to prove once and for all he really is the best in the business.
Peacock, who trains in Manchester, successfully retained his T44 100m Paralympic title in Rio last summer, having made himself one of the stars of the show on home soil four years previously at the London Games.
Last year’s final line-up saw the glaring omission of world record holder Richard Browne though, who pulled out of the USA team prior to the Games due to not being at his peak physical fitness.
Browne is expected to be back to his best in the capital this year, with the chance for the American and Peacock to renew rivalries.
The latter took bragging rights at both London 2012 and the 2013 World Championships but then missed the 2015 World Championships, which was duly won by Browne, due to injury.
And after missing each other again in Rio, Peacock is looking forward to locking horns again and proving he is the one to beat still.
“A gold medal this year would probably be ranked somewhere between my London 2012 and Rio 2016 medals,” he said.
“I look at Rio, as a sporting achievement, bigger than my win in London, because it was more competitive, I’d had a messy year, and there was a lot going on.
“For me, that will always be a much bigger achievement for me, and if London 2017 goes the same way, then that will be too.
“If Richard and Jarryd Wallace are there, we’re going to have a packed field again so it will be even harder for me.
“But as a personal achievement, nothing is ever going to beat winning a big World Championship medal in front of the British public.
“A home Paralympic title and a home World title would be amazing.”
After hopefully adding another medal to his collection in London, Peacock’s attentions will turn to the small matter of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where the 23-year-old will be looking to show that three really is the magic number.
After that, he doesn’t know where his future will lie, but he’s determined to give it all he can for as long as his body allows.
“For me, Tokyo looks awesome, and I want to be a part of it. From the hour or so we saw at the closing ceremony in Rio, it showed to me that they are going to put on one hell of a show,” he said.
“They are going to try and out-do London 2012, that’s what they want to do and they want the light to shine on them. It’s going to be a special thing to be a part of.
“By then, I’ll be 27 so I should be at about the peak of my career and I’ve hopefully got a couple more years on this programme.
“At the end of the day though, I’ve got to listen to my body because I honestly don’t know how many amputees have put this sort of force through their body for a blade.
“If my body can hold up, then I will keep running, but as soon as it gets to a point where it starts to affect my life, then I will call it a day. I don’t know when that will be.”
For now though, all focus is on July, and the chance to perform in front of his home fans at the World Para Athletics Championships.
On Tuesday, Peacock was at Marion Richardson Primary School in Tower Hamlets to launch a programme that will see 250,000 schoolchildren across Greater London watch the world’s finest para-athletes in action at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Tickets for the initiative, which is supported by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, will cost £3 – as well as free admission for teachers – with at least seven gold medals guaranteed to be won in each session.
“After London 2012, the reaction was amazing and kids seemed to love Paralympic sport, so this is giving them the opportunity to watch it face-to-face, and I think it will be something that will live with them forever,” he explained.
“That track and stadium is very dear to my heart and I’m massively excited to get back out there.
“Hopefully we’re going to see packed stadiums, great crowds, and I know from London 2012 that everyone loves hearing that home roar.
“Gold is what I’m aiming for, anything less and I won’t be too happy.”