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By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
DOUBLE Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock has urged Team England stars about to embark on a medal quest at the Commonwealth Games not to be overawed by a home crowd.
Peacock won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and then repeated the feat five years later at the World Athletics Championships – again in London.
Peacock joined netballer Ama Agbeze in Birmingham this morning to celebrate the start of the Commonwealth Games.
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Agbeze and Peacock attended a National Lottery-funded community project called Community Actions for Local Opportunities (CAFLO) at a sports and community centre based in Bromford, in Birmingham.
Bromford is an area in the top one percent of deprivation in Birmingham and thanks to support from National Lottery – they were handed a grant of £161,000 – they can provide sport and recreational activities for those who live nearby.
“Don’t put too much expectation on it,” said Peacock, when asked for his tips for track success.
“Go out there and enjoy it. For me it’s all about perspective, it’s realising what you are there to do.
“The sprints are no different to any training event, the only difference is what you put on yourself.
“If you can just remind yourself that you’re doing the same job, sometimes it can relax you.
“It’s our brains that over complicate things, we have this thing that whenever things become meaningful, they become more stressful.
“It’s a case of realising you are there to do the same thing you do every day.”
One member of Team England who sure knows how to master the big occasion is Hannah Cockroft.
The Halifax-born star has amassed seven Paralympic golds, but this summer will mark her first Commonwealth Games appearance, with her T34 category event included in the line-up for the first time.
And Peacock believes that it’s great to see more para events being added to the Commonwealth programme.
“It’s really good,” he beamed. “The issue for para-sports is that there are so many events, how do you cater for them all?
“If they can keep changing each year which events, they use they can showcase all the events which gives everyone an opportunity.
“The more opportunities they give to more people, it’s only a positive thing.
“It’s great to see that there are so many para events at this Commonwealth Games and we’re starting to be really represented on an equal footing.
“Things are starting to move on, and Hannah’s class is starting to get more competitive, which is great.
“It’s great that we have so many names, but we’re always going to have names in Britain as we’re so good at para sports.”
Peacock and Cockroft and just two athletes whose careers have been supported by National Lottery funding.
Peacock is delighted that the support continues to benefit so many people.
“When I first started sport, you see The National Lottery and you start learning about the fact that they are effectively who pays your wage, they are the people who have put so much investment into the British Athletics organisation as a whole,” he explained.
“But then what you don’t realise is all the investments they do at the grassroots level. That’s what is cool about the events like this, you get to see where the money sees how it’s not just helping elite athletes, it’s giving people an opportunity which is so important.
“If you put a quid into the lottery that goes into grassroots sport, into athlete elites, into infrastructure but there’s also a chance you could win millions. It’s a good definition of a win-win.”
It was ten years ago at London 2012 that Peacock first announced himself on the world stage, so another home Games is sure to provoke fond memories for the 29-year-old.
“It’s different now being an outsider,” he explained. “You can sit and watch it and see it all growing.
“When you’re on the inside, you’re involved in a bubble you almost don’t want to look at too much of it, you want to focus on the task in hand. So now I just want to enjoy it all and watch.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.