Jonnie’s Blade Camp helps five amputees
Tuesday: Jonnie’s Blade Camp; (Channel 4, 10pm)
The games were delayed by a year, but we’re now only two weeks away from the Paralympics, which are due to begin on August 24, and as part of the build-up, Channel 4 is bringing us the new two-part documentary Jonnie’s Blade Camp.
It finds Jonnie Peacock helping five young amputees to discover their sporting potential.
He’s the perfect man for the job. Jonnie was just five when he contracted meningitis, which damaged the tissue in his right leg. The limb was subsequently amputated below the knee.
Jonnie credits his family with helping him to fulfil his sporting dreams. He’s previously said: “Both my mum and dad have been so supportive – they’ve never questioned my decisions or doubted that I could do things.
“I don’t really have any memories of losing my leg (I don’t know whether that’s because the brain protects itself from traumatic events) but my parents do. It was far worse for them really.”
He adds: “I was always sports mad and they did everything they could to give me the same opportunities as everyone else.”
Thanks in part to that early encouragement, Jonnie went on to claim the gold in the 100m T44 final at the 2012 Paralympics in London, becoming a household name into the bargain. He was awarded an MBE the following year.
The athlete successfully defended his title in 2016, and is now hoping to make it a hat-trick after being selected for this year’s games.
Away from the track, he’s also competed in Strictly Come Dancing, becoming the first amputee Paralympian to compete on the show. He made it to Blackpool with his partner Oti Mabuse, performing a memorable jive and paso (while dressed as Indiana Jones) along the way.
For his latest TV project though, Jonnie is focusing on the next generation, although he has said that the emphasis of the show will not necessarily be on identifying potential future champions. When Jonnie’s Blade Camp was first announced, he said: “My own story and those of many Paralympians prove sport and an active lifestyle is possible regardless of disability.
“Giving disabled youngsters the support and encouragement they need to stay active doesn’t just help them physically, it can potentially provide them with a life-changing sense of confidence and self-worth.”
He added: “This isn’t the search for the next Paralympic sprint champion, this project is about opening young people’s eyes so they can release their potential and realise how much they can achieve whether that’s participating in structured sport or just running around and messing about in the playground with their friends.”
Over the course of the documentary, the youngsters will take part in a year-long training camp, where Jonnie draws on state-of-the-art technology, inspirational guest coaches and his own experiences to help the youngsters accomplish things they never thought possible.
He begins though by meeting the kids and asking them to set their own ambitious goals. Jonnie also prepares them to sprint their first-ever 100 metres on their prosthetic blades.
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