Paralympic sprint champion Jonnie Peacock hopes his rival Richard Browne will make a surprise appearance at this summer’s World Championships in London.
The 24-year-old Briton and world-record holder Browne have dominated the T44 100m event for the past five years.
Their rivalry has been heated at times, but Browne, who retired before Rio 2016 but returned to the track earlier this year, looks unlikely to compete.
“He’s the defending champion I want him in the race,” Peacock told BBC Sport.
Peacock won the pair’s first major contest by taking gold at the London 2012 Paralympics, in the same London Stadium that will host this year’s World Para-Athletics Championships.
He has gone on to claim titles at the 2013 World Championships and Rio 2016, with 25-year-old Browne’s only major championship in the 100m coming at the 2015 Worlds, where Peacock was absent through injury.
Browne has yet to register a time below 11.48 seconds in 2017, with his world record mark at 10.61 secs and Peacock’s leading time this season at 10.76 secs, but he insisted last month he was still “the man to beat”, despite not competing in May’s Manchester Games.
“I don’t think he will be there. I hope he is,” said Peacock.
“But seeing he didn’t turn up to Manchester was a big red flag.
“He seems to have deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts, he didn’t turn up to US trials and hasn’t even given an answer as to at why he wasn’t in Manchester.”
It seems Peacock’s closest rivals in London will be South African Amu Fourie, German Felix Strong and American Jarryd Wallace, who Peacock describes as “literally one of the nicest guys I know”.
He is, however, unlikely to say the same about Browne, who once tweeted that Peacock was a “great athlete not so great person”.
A rivalry explained: ‘Next thing I know he runs in at the last second’
Peacock says he had no issue with his competitor until an incident at the 2013 Anniversary Games in London, a few weeks after the Briton’s victory in the World Championships.
“Apparently all warm-up, every time I walked past Richard he would grab his hamstring. And about 10 minutes before we went into the call room he stops, gets on the floor and holds his hamstring like he’s just broken it,” said Peacock.
“I checked he was OK and asked the British Athletics doctor to see him.
“They call for the race and he’s not coming so I let my guard down. Next thing I know he runs in at the last second and I even said to an official ‘he’ll probably stop at 10m’.
“He broke the world record. That was when I realised I couldn’t be nice with the guy anymore. It’s good fun though and I love racing him.”
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