Jonnie Peacock: From sprinting to Strictly

8th September 2017

Olivia Sinha-Roy applauds the selection of Jonnie Peacock on this year’s Strictly line-up

Jonnie Peacock

This year we’ve noticed the double Paralympic 100m athlete Jonnie Peacock more often than usual.

With Paralympic, World and European sprint titles between 2012 and 2016, Peacock proved he has no chance of stopping after charging to victory in the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

At age 5, Peacock contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia and as a result lost his right leg below the knee. Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening infection. It is a term used to describe two major illnesses – meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Together, the after-effects of both can include limb loss, acquired brain injury and organ failure.

Competitive spirit

Recently, Strictly Come Dancing has announced the Paralympian will be in its 2017 line-up. It would be naive to see Peacock as an underdog in the show. He will certainly not be lacking the competitive spirit, being an athlete. With Strictly being a dance programme and dance conjuring up a certain ‘aesthetic’, it is key to spread the word that dance is for everybody and that the old fashioned idealism of what a dancer looks like is gone. 

Sparking discussion

With Jonnie being the first ‘disabled celebrity’ to take part on this show, it is guaranteed his appearance will spark discussions in living rooms across the UK about disabled people and dance and discussions about disability in general. This can only be a good thing. 

Despite facing the devastating effects of meningitis, Jonnie Peacock has not been deterred from his sports and is now approaching new experiences. He is an example of an outstanding role model and continues to inspire younger aspiring athletes, regardless of disability, whilst also acting as an ambassador to raise awareness of meningitis with the Meningitis Research Foundation.