Peacock sprints to glory
Britain’s Jonnie Peacock on Thursday sprinted to glory in the Paralympics’ showpiece final, stripping “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius of another title with a lightning-quick 100m.
The 19-year-old, who holds the world record of 10.85 seconds in the straight sprint, again proved he is the fastest amputee runner in the world by taking gold at the Olympic Stadium in east London in a new Paralympic record of 10.90 seconds.
Pistorius, 25, was just out of the medals in fourth, clocking 11.17 seconds behind compatriot, friend and room-mate Arnu Fourie, who took bronze in 11.08 seconds and US sprinter Richard Browne, who won silver in 11.03 seconds.
A stunned Peacock described his win as “amazing” while the South African star was magnanimous in defeat and said the Briton’s performance was just the start of a stellar career.
“I can’t imagine how happy he must be to do this in front of his home crowd,” he told Britain’s Channel 4 television. “Well done, it’s a great time for him. He’s still young and he’s got a great future ahead of him.”
Organisers had billed the T44 race for single and double below-the-knee amputees as the race of the Games, predicting that all eight finalists could go under 11 seconds for the first time.
Peacock, a single leg amputee trained by Dan Pfaff who coached Canada’s Donovan Bailey to Olympic 100m glory in 1996, signalled his intent in Thursday’s heats by equalling the Paralympic record of 11.08 seconds.
Pistorius, the T44 100m, 200m and 400m champion in Beijing, had warned that he was not favourite for the straight sprint, as he was a one-lap specialist.
The Games’ most high-profile athlete, who became the first double-amputee to run in the Olympics last month, had been keen to let his running do the talking after becoming embroiled in a row over artificial blade length.
After sensationally losing his T44 200m title to Brazil’s Alan Oliveira on Sunday, Pistorius said he was at a disadvantage in terms of stride length as his rivals were “a lot taller”.
The row about whether his rivals had illegally flouted rules governing the maximum allowed height of prostheses has rumbled on all week, although the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has said there were no violations.
Pistorius gained a measure of revenge over Oliveira on Thursday, as he anchored South Africa to a world record-breaking victory in the T42-46 4x100m relay for single and double below-the-knee amputees and upper limb amputees.
British wheelchair racer David Weir provided the warm-up for the sprint kings by retaining his T54 800m title after successfully defending his 1,500m crown and winning gold in the 5,000m.
Weir’s team-mate Hannah Cockroft doubled up after winning the T34 100m to take the 200m, while France’s Assia El Hannouni won the T12 200m title for blind and visually impaired runners for the third consecutive Games.
Earlier in the day, Britain’s Sarah Storey clinched her fourth gold of the Games and the 11th in her career by winning the women’s individual C4/5 road race over 64km at the Brands Hatch motor racing circuit in southeast England.
The 34-year-old cyclist has now won 11 golds in her Games career – a joint record for a British female Paralympian.
Australian swimmer Jacqueline Freney took a national record-breaking seventh gold of the Games in the S7 400m freestyle, after team-mate Matthew Cowdrey bagged his 12th career gold and South Africa’s Natalie du Toit got her 13th.
Russia-born US swimmer Jessica Long won the S8 100m freestyle for third Games in a row, beating her own world record, for her fifth gold in the British capital.
In five-a-side football, Brazil were on course to retain their unbeaten Paralympic record since the sport was introduced in 2004. They made the final again, where they will play France.
In goalball, one of only two Paralympic sports with no Olympic equivalent, Japan won through to face favourites China after both Asian sides beat Scandinavian opposition to win their semi-finals.
In wheelchair basketball, Australia held off a dramatic late rally by the United States and dashed their dreams of a third straight Paralympic wheelchair basketball title, as they progressed to Friday’s women’s final.