Double Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock has vowed to “lay it all down on that track” in his quest for a hat-trick of 100m golds.
Peacock, a poster boy of the Games, blew away the competition at London 2012 and Rio 2016 but emulating the Olympic exploits of sprinting great Usain Bolt is far from assured.
The 28-year-old took time away from the sport following Brazil for a mental break, while reclassification has placed him among a formidable field of rivals.
He also underwent surgery on a serious knee injury in late 2019, with his recovery coming just before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, before a hamstring issue caused additional trouble earlier this year.
Nevertheless, the Cambridge-born star is in Tokyo for further glory and will attempt to make a statement of intent when he lines up for Sunday’s T64 heats, ahead of Monday’s final.
“If it was scheduled for last year, I knew it was going to be tough and I might not have been in the best form and maybe not actually able to get up to where I needed to get,” he told the PA news agency.
“But, at the end of the day, this event is the pinnacle of our sport, I can’t sit these races out.
“This is what we train for, we’ve been training for five years now for this one moment.
“I trained for five years for really 10, 11 seconds – or I guess 22 seconds, if you count the two races up, the heat and the final.
“This is what we’re here for, you’ve got to lay it all down on that track.
“There’s two lines separating me and the competition, all I can do is focus on my race and do my thing and what will be will be.
“For me, I’ve been excited for this Games ever since the closing ceremony in Rio.”
Peacock described potential comparisons to Jamaican runner Bolt – who won three successive 100m golds in Beijing, London and Rio – as “pretty cool” but insisted his greater priority is raising the profile of Para sport.
In order to strengthen his legacy on the track, he will almost certainly need to dip below 11 seconds for the first time in 2021.
He is now in a class comprised solely of single below-the-knee amputees after being moved from T44 to T64.
That includes German Felix Streng, who has run 10.72 this year, and his compatriot Johannes Floors, while American duo Jarryd Wallace and Jonathan Gore pose further threats.
“Every year it gets harder. The guys have really stepped up in my class over the last few years,” said Peacock, who had his right leg amputated below the knee aged five after contracting meningitis.
“We’ve got many, many people running very, very quick times; obviously there are a couple of Germans this year that I think are capable of going 10.6, maybe even quicker.
“I think that’s a stark contrast to Rio where we probably had one or two people dipping below 11 seconds.
“I think we’re likely to see incredibly fast races. I’m feeling good so far.
“I think if you’ve won a gold medal, that’s what you want to get, you don’t want to go in there looking for second.
“That’s what we’re aiming for but it’s not going to be easy.”