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UK's Peacock beats favorite Pistorius in battle of the 'Blade Runners'

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“(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.

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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.

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