Britain's Jonnie Peacock (2nd left) wins the men's 100m T-44 final ahead of South Africa's Amu Fourie (left), Richard Browne of the U.S. (2nd right) and South Africa's Oscar Pistorius in the Olympic Stadium at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Thursday.
LONDON - The men’s 100-meter final was the most hyped race in Paralympic history, with all eyes on “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius fighting to defend his Beijing Paralympic gold medal in the event.
But the home favorite and world-record holder, 19-year-old Briton Jonnie Peacock, wound up stealing the show. When he was introduced on the starting line, the crowd went wild, erupting into the loudest roar of the night.
The field in the race -- held under the T44 classification of disability -- was stacked with international heavyweights.
Among them was the current 100-meter world champion, 26-year-old American Jerome Singleton, who took that title from international icon Pistorius.
Next to Singleton was Team USA’s Blake Leeper, who’d recently tied the world record for the T43 100-meter sprint in a time of 10.91. Down the line was Pistorius’ Paralympic roommate and longtime Team South Africa rival, Arnu Fourie.
Only 18 months after losing both his legs and one of his arms in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, photographer Giles Duley has returned to work at the Paralympics. "I'm myself again," he tells NBC News' Baruch Ben-Chorin.
Also in the running was Brazil’s Alan Oliveira, who beat Pistorius in a 200-meter upset on Sunday. Pistorius’ post-race criticism of Oliveira has been the talk of these games.
An obviously nervous Oliviera had a false start, leading to a delay.
The 80,000-strong crowd seized the chance to cheer Peacock one final time. But, trying to keep his concentration, he put his finger to his mouth, requesting silence. The crowd quieted down as the runners took their marks again.
Retired U.S. Marine Angela Madsen once lived out of a locker at Disneyland. But the 52-year-old paraplegic turned her life around and has rowed across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. She's now competing for Team USA at the Paralympic Games in London. Madsen told her story to NBC's Jamieson Lesko.
And they were off. A mere 10.9 seconds later -- just 0.05 seconds outside his world record -- a new Paralympic champion was born as Peacock blazed across the finish line for the gold.
Just behind him, Team USA’s Richard Browne clinched the silver with a personal best time, blowing his title-holding teammates away.
Just behind Browne was Fourie for the bronze.
Transforming the despair of being paralyzed in battle into determination, Iraq War veteran Scott Winkler sets his sights on a medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Pistorius crossed the line out of the medals in fourth place. He ran straight to Peacock and delivered a congratulatory hug.
Pistorius – the favorite heading into the games – has one more chance at 2012 gold when he runs in the 400 meters. The qualifying heat is later on Friday and the final is Saturday.
“(I) started to think, ‘Oh, crap I’m winning!’” around 60 meters into the sprint, an elated Peacock told Britain’s Channel 4 in a post-race interview.
He was quick to set his sights higher though. “I should’ve run faster than that,” he said.
Perhaps he and his coach feel that way, but the record books indicate that he indeed ran fast enough.
More world stories from NBC News:
- Smoking ban leaves Lebanese fuming
- London 2012's legacy under spotlight as end nears
- Car crash politics: Laws don't touch rich in Thailand
- I planted what?! Farmer mistakenly grows dope
- Afghan soldiers detained over 'links with insurgents'
- Couple held hostage by pirates to set sail again