Paralympic champion's hopes for Strictly success

Sian Harrison
Paralympic athlete Jonnie Peacock and partner Oti Mabuse chat to Tess Daly. - WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture

Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock sprinted to victory in London and Rio on his blade.

But the two-times gold medalist now hopes the prosthesis will help to put a spring in his step - and his jive - as he competes to take home Strictly Come Dancing's coveted glitterball trophy.

"I think perhaps there might be a couple of dances where I might need a blade - like the jive maybe, anything that requires constant bounce," he said.

"But when it’s controlled, slow and not so much jumping around it will probably be my standard leg."

Jonnie and dance partner Oti Mabuse in action on Strictly Come Dancing. Credit: Guy Levy/PA

The 24-year-old athlete, whose right leg was amputated after he contracted meningitis at the age of five, became a household name after smashing the Paralympic T44 100m record to take gold at the London 2012 games.

He stepped onto Strictly dance floor with partner Oti Mabuse for the first time last night, and said he hopes to challenge some of the "stigmas" surrounding his disability.

The athlete said: "I think Oti will second this - it's not the bottom half I have to worry about, it's more the top half and how that looks.

"I'm just going to go out there and have as much fun as possible and try to change some of those stigmas that I guess are surrounding it."

He added: "Some people have preconceived notions of what people can and cannot do based on looking at them, but I think sometimes it’s just a case of not judging a book by its cover."

Jonnie celebrates his record-breaking victory in the T4100m at London 2012. Credit: Eddie Mullholland/Eddie Mullholland

Jonnie said taking part in the glitzy ballroom contest was more terrifying than running in front of 80,000 people.

"When I’m running, it’s something I’ve been doing for years; I’ve had two weeks to prepare for this… I don’t really know what I’m doing!", he said.

"So we’re just going to go out there and have as much fun as possible, but it’s nerve-wracking.

"Dancing is definitely not my forte, but I’ve had so much fun over the last couple of weeks I’m just looking forward to getting myself stuck in and I hope I don’t look too much like a bumbling idiot." 

Jonnie proudly displays his gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images Sport

Despite his nerves, the athlete hopes his training will give him an advantage on the dance floor as he competes against 14 other celebrity contestants - including singer Aston Merrygold, actress Gemma Atkinson and comedian Brian Conley.

"I had the medical and the doctor goes, 'Oh, are you going to be OK with the lifts?', and I was just like, 'Well, I’m OK in the gym with 200 kilos on my back so I’ll probably be OK with the lifts!'."

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One on Saturday at 6.45pm.

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