Oscar Pistorius and Jonnie Peacock go head to head as season starts at BT Paralympic World Cup

Leading South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has labelled his participation at the BT Paralympic World Cup in May an "essential step" in his bid for Olympic and Paralympic glory later this year and will see him take on ‘Britain’s Blade Runner’, Jonnie Peacock.

The 25-year-old, who will compete in the T43/44 100m and 200m in Manchester and the iconic track star insists the competition will be more pivotal than ever this year.

Pistorius, a BT Ambassador, said: "I’ve been waiting a long time for 2012 to come around and I’m so excited it’s now here. The Olympics and Paralympics will be the pinnacle in many athletes’ careers and I'm determined to make it a year I’ll never forget.

"The BT Paralympic World Cup is always an essential step in my competition calendar and this year it will be more important than ever.

"I always love competing at the event as it kick-starts my summer season and provides me with immaculate foundations to progress through the summer with."

Also in the T43/44 100m world-class line-up on 22 May is British sprinter and fellow BT Ambassador Jonnie Peacock. Despite competing in the same event, 18-year-old Peacock and Pistorius have forged a strong friendship, having first faced each other back in 2010, when the pair were drawn in adjacent lanes.

Peacock, who was inspired to try and compete in Paralympic sport after seeing Pistorius on television competing at the Beijing Paralympic Games, says it will be an honour to line-up against the South African once again and believes the event could be a vital stepping stone in his Paralympic charge.

Peacock said: "I always love lining up against Oscar. Not only is he a fantastic athlete, but he’s a great person to be around, especially if you are a young sportsman.

"He’s always very willing to give encouragement and tips, so it will be fantastic to learn from him once again at the BT Paralympic World Cup.

"The event also gives me a chance to put what I have been working on in training into practice. Things have been developing very nicely and I'm really confident that I can make huge strides this year.

"2012 is a hugely important year for all athletes, but for us Brits it holds even more significance and I can’t wait to test myself on the biggest stage in front of an adoring home crowd. It’s going to be amazing."

Pistorius will come into the event at the Manchester Regional Arena on the back of a whirlwind 2011, which saw him represent South Africa at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, where he reached the semi-final in the 400m before becoming the first amputee to win a world track medal after helping his country take silver in the 4x400m relay.

In addition to his success in South Korea last year, Pistorius – who is the reigning World Record holder in both the T43/44 100m and 200m – also took three IPC Athletics World titles in New Zealand last year and scooped gold in the T43/44 100m and 400m at the 2011 BT Paralympic World Cup.

Pistorius is confident of success again this year and hopes he can use the experience to gain an edge over his Olympic and Paralympic rivals and re-establish his position as world number one after being defeated by Jerome Singleton at the 2011 IPC World Championships.

He added: "With London 2012 just around the corner, the opportunity to compete against top quality athletes in a world-class competition is going to be invaluable.

"I can’t over emphasise the importance of competing in the UK just months before the Olympics and Paralympics arrive in London.

"While I've competed in the UK many times, and in many ways consider it my second home, it will be hugely advantageous to get some race experience there in the run up to London 2012, particularly in such a strong event."

Phil Craven, Chief Executive of the International Paralympic Committee, commented: "The men’s T44 100m at the Paralympics is going to be ‘the race’ of the Games and is one of our strongest classes together with men’s T54 racing.

"At last year’s World Championships all finishers were under 12 seconds and just 0.09 seconds separated first and fourth place so the fans in Manchester are sure to witness a thrilling race."

The BT Paralympic World Cup is the largest annual international multi-sport competition in elite disability sport. BT is entering its fourth year as title sponsor, upholding its strong commitment to disability sport in the UK that stretches back over twenty years.

Manchester has committed for the eighth consecutive year to hosting elite international athletes competing across Wheelchair Basketball, Athletics and Football 7-a-side. In addition, Boccia and Sitting Volleyball will once again be represented, with international matches staged during the competition.

The 2012 BT Paralympic World Cup will once again be broadcast by Channel 4. For more information about Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage, visit: www.channel4.com/paralympics.

The BT Paralympic World Cup is sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and supported by ParalympicsGB, BT and Manchester City Council.

Tickets for the BT Paralympic World Cup are now on sale. For more information visit: www.btparalympicworldcup.com

The event schedule will see the Manchester Regional Arena host all events, starting with Athletics on 22 May, followed by Wheelchair Basketball and Football 7-a-side on 23-26 May. The Boccia match will be staged on 24 May and the Sitting Volleyball international match will be held on 25 May.

The full Aviva GB & NI team for the BT Paralympic World Cup will be announced later this month.

ENDS

For media information, please contact Fast Track:

Sarah.jenkins@fasttrackagency.com / 0044 2075 935200

Nick.Hartwell@fasttrackagency.com / 0044 2070 965831

Follow the BT Paralympic World Cup on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BTPWC and Facebook: www.facebook.com/btparalympicworldcup

Notes to Editors:

1. BT is the title sponsor of the BT Paralympic World Cup. BT is the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. BT has a history of support of disability sport within the UK spanning over twenty years when it became the first commercial partner of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) in 1989. BT has extended its partnership with the BPA through to 2016. BT supports a number of Paralympic athletes through its athlete ambassador programme, including South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius and GB athletes Liz Johnson (swimmer), Nathan Stephens (javelin), Lee Pearson (para-equestrian), Jonnie Peacock (sprinter) and Hannah Cockroft (wheelchair racer). BT is a co-sponsor of Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage (which includes the BT Paralympic World Cup and London 2012 Paralympic Games). Channel 4, in partnership with BT, created a series of short films featuring a number of BT’s ambassador athletes. The films profiled Paralympic athletes and focused on their mental and physical approach to competing and training. The featured athletes were sprinters Oscar Pistorius and Jonnie Peacock, swimmer Liz Johnson, para-equestrian Lee Pearson and javelin thrower Nathan Stephens.

2. ParalympicsGB is the name for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Paralympic Team that competes at the summer and winter Paralympic Games. The Team is selected and managed by the British Paralympic Association, in conjunction with the national governing bodies, and is made up of the best sportsmen and women who compete in the 20 summer and 4 winter sports on the Paralympic Programme. There is only one Paralympic team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland; ParalympicsGB. There is not a Paralympic swimming team or Paralympic tennis team. The individual sports join to become ParalympicsGB, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Paralympic Team. We are proud of our tradition of outstanding performance at the Paralympic Games: ParalympicsGB has finished second in the medals table at the last three summer Paralympic Games and brought 102 medals home from Beijing, 42 of them gold. With the next summer Games on home soil, the BPA is exploring every possible option that might have a positive impact on the performance of British athletes in London enabling them to achieve their personal best when it matters most. We recognise that the British team’s performance will have an impact on changing perceptions of disability sport and influencing attitudes towards disability. The BPA would like to thank: our partners adidas, Atos Origin, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, Coca Cola, Dow, EDF Energy, GE, Lloyds TSB, Omega, Sainsbury’s, Samsung and VISA; our supporters Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Deloitte, Cisco Systems, UPS and Thomas Cook; our suppliers and providers Aggreko, Airwave, Atkins, Boston Consulting Group, CBS Outdoor, Crystal CG, Eurostar, G4S, GlaxoSmithKline, Gymnova, Heathrow Airport, Heineken, Holiday Inn, John Lewis, Mondo, McCann Worldgroup, Nature Valley, Next, Nielsen, Otto Bock, Populous, Rapiscan, Rio Tinto, Technogym, Thames Water, Ticketmaster, Trebor and Westfield.

3. Channel 4 won the rights to be the host broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in January 2010. Channel 4 is uniquely placed to help LOCOG deliver the best possible Paralympic Games given its track record of disability portrayal and quality sports coverage that meets the expectations of established viewers while innovating to attract new ones. Channel 4 aims to make the 2012 Paralympics the biggest event in the channel’s history, bringing about a fundamental and permanent shift in perceptions of disability in the UK while also raising awareness of Paralympic Sport and [British] Paralympians into household names. Since winning the rights in 2010, Channel 4 has invested in delivering the best possible coverage and has commissioned three in-depth documentary series on Paralympians, while also running three series of That Paralympic Show and a number of short film series in conjunction with BT and other Paralympic partners. During Games-time, Channel 4 will increase UK TV hours devoted to coverage of Paralympics by 400% with a truly ‘all day every day’ approach.

4. About Manchester City Council: As partner to the Paralympic World Cup, Manchester continues to strengthen its impressive reputation for successfully staging major international sports events that bring long-term social and economic benefits to the City and its residents. Manchester’s excellent range of accessible sports venues and facilities, combined with its school and community sports development programmes provide the springboard for sporting stars of the future and events such as these play a key role in the creation of sporting opportunities across the city. Manchester will continue to host major events that deliver real benefits to local people whilst also showcasing the city both as a vibrant place of national and international significance and as a global sporting hub. For more information on Manchester’s sports events programme visit www.manchesterworldsport.com.

5. About BT: BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. In the year ended 31 March 2011, BT Group’s revenue was £20,076m with profit before taxation of £1,717m. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. For more information, visit www.btplc.com

As a service to our readers, Around the Rings will provide verbatim texts of selected press releases issued by Olympic-related organizations, federations, businesses and sponsors.

These press releases appear as sent to Around the Rings and are not edited for spelling, grammar or punctuation.

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