Paralympics 2012: Pistorius braced for Peacock challenge in sprints
OSCAR Pistorius is bracing himself to be upstaged by a 19-year-old from Cambridge in the most eagerly-anticipated race of the Paralympic Games.
The South African is the global face of the Paralympics and a star around the world after making history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics.
The Blade Runner is back in London to try and defend his T44 100, 200 and 400 metres titles, but feels the competition over the shortest distance, the hottest ticket at the Games, could prove too strong even for him.
Among those gunning for his title is British teenager Jonnie Peacock, who broke the 100m world record with a run of 10.85 seconds in June.
"I've been more than impressed (by the progress Peacock has made)," said Pistorius, whose focus on qualifying for the 400m at the Olympics came at the expense of his 100m training.
"He ran a race in May where he ran 11.4 which was his personal best. I was asked after the race what I thought about him and I said, 'he's a youngster, he's coming up in the sport, I think he's still got a lot to learn'.
"Then he went and broke the single amputee world record. He improved by more than half a second.
"You never see that, especially in the 100m, it just doesn't happen. He is a huge threat."
Peacock, who lost his right leg below the knee to meningitis aged five, trains at Lee Valley alongside the likes of Dwain Chambers, Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish and under the guidance of American Dan Pfaff, who coached Donovan Bailey to Olympic 100m gold.
But Pistorius believes the major championship experience of another rival, American Jerome Singleton, could give him the edge.
"He's true professional, a very serious guy and doesn't let competition get the better of him. He's going to be just as much of a challenge," he said.
For Pistorius, having the Games in London also offers the chance to once and for all change public perceptions toward disability. He feels Great Britain's treatment of the Paralympics could prove a watershed moment for the movement.
He said: "There are a lot of people who are going to watch these Games around the world that are going to be forced in a way to see the Paralympic Games through the eyes of the people of the UK. I think that's a great thing.
"I believe this Paralympic Games is going to set many people's perception not only about Paralympic sport, but many people's perception about others living with disabilities.
"This is going to completely change people's mind sets. I'm so excited to see the impact that this leaves around the world."