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By Rachel Steinberg
Double Paralympic medallist George Peasgood hopes broadcasters were paying attention to Brits’ steady stream of spirited tweets throughout Tokyo 2020.
The 25-year-old took triumphant silver in the PTS5 triathlon before claiming bronze in the C4 road cycling time trial, wrapping up his Games with sixth in the C4-5 road race.
And Peasgood’s second medal of the Games also marked a major milestone: when he crossed the Fuji International Speedway finish line in 46:08:93, he clinched the 1000th medal won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Olympians and Paralympians since National Lottery funding was introduced in 1997.
Back home in Britain, the Saffron Walden native joined the chorus of Paralympians – including athletics megastars David Weir, Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock – calling for more airtime after ParalympicsGB finished with a whopping 124 medals in Japan.
“I think it sets a bit of expectation,” said Peasgood.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of stuff like pushing on social for TV rights and things like that to try to get para sport and more discreet sports shown a bit more.
“It’s something that does happen better and better with each Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“So hopefully that filters through into the years we aren’t at the Games.
“With social media being as big as it is now, and it’s even bigger now than it was in Rio, we get more exposure from that as well.
“Hopefully it just continues to grow.”
Peasgood’s feat is more remarkable than many of triathlon’s newest converts - who stayed up tweeting their encouragement into the wee hours of the UK morning - even realise.
There was a time, frighteningly close to the Games, when he wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to compete.
In May, bone stress in Peasgood’s left ankle forced him to take six weeks off running. His silver medal-winning performance was the first time he’d run five kilometres outside at full body weight since the injury, and it wasn’t until the “last two or three weeks” before competition that he felt confident he could challenge the world’s best.
Peasgood’s name will be the one written in the history books, but he is quick to credit the support team, including coaches and physiotherapists, who were his critical co-authors.
Much has changed since 1998, when the four-man bobsleigh crew of Sean Olsson, Dean Ward, Courtney Rumbolt and Paul Attwood ushered in the new National Lottery-funded era with an Olympic bronze in Nagano.
One thing hasn’t: for every one of the 998 athletes in between the Japanese bookends there was a village of experts, enabled by National Lottery funding, empowering competitors like Peasgood to focus on the finish line.
“People are surprised by how much you have to do to be an athlete,” said Peasgood.
“Others say, oh, athletes have the best jobs in the world, which I completely agree with. I absolutely love what I do.
“To have the opportunity to do that as a job and not have to worry about anything financially is incredible.
“But on the flip side, it can be the hardest job in the world, especially when you’ve got an injury or can’t train or you’re in a low point.
“You have to get yourself up, push your body to the limits that other people don’t want to.
“You get both sides of it, but I absolutely love the position I’m in. I love being able to train and do that as my job.”
No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen