'Blade Jumper' Markus Rehm aiming to break world record at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

It was one of the most amazing moments in world sport last year. Markus Rehm, aka the 'Blade Jumper', leapt 8.40m to break the long jump world record at the para-athletics world championships in Doha. The distance would have won him the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. And the good news for sport fans is that the German believes he can jump even further at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

03/09/2016

 
Photo: Markus Rehm with the Paralympic mascot; Copyright: Rio 2016/Paulo Mumia

Markus Rehm poses with Rio 2016 Paralympic Games mascot Tom at his hotel in Copacabana; © Rio 2016/Paulo Mumia

"That jumped changed a lot for me and it showed to many people that we Paralympians are really amazing athletes," Rehm told rio2016.com. "I’m really pushing myself to the limits to get a really good result at the Rio Paralympic Games, to jump close to my world record or, in the best case, even a bit further. That would be really amazing and Rio would be a really great place to do it."

With six months until the start of the Games, Rehm, who competes in the T44 class, said his main focus now is on preparing to defend the gold medal he won at London 2012. "The next six months will be a lot of work for me, training hard and really focusing on the Paralympic Games," he said. Rehm was enchanted by Rio on his visit to the city, which was for an exhibition event in which he jumped further than able-bodied athletes, and said returning would be a "good motivation" during the tough days ahead of him.

"Rio is going to be a great host city," he said. "All the people are so fascinated by sport, everyone is doing sport along Copcabana. At the competition we had all the people were so happy to watch it, they were so into the sport. I think the Games will have a really good atmosphere."

Rehm’s main rival in Rio is likely to be Dutchman Ronald Hertog, who took silver behind the German in Doha, albeit 1.14m behind. "I spoke to Ronald a few days ago and he said training was going really well, and he has a new technique, so I’m curious to see how far he can jump this season," said Rehm.

Rehm lost his leg after a wakeboarding accident when he was 14, but his positive outlook meant he never considered a more sedate life. "Even in the first few days in hospital I knew I would definitely return to sports," he said. "One year later I was back on the wakeboard and then I went snowboarding in the winter."

A very polite and mild-mannered character, Rehm nevertheless shows a steely determination when he talks about the importance of showing the world that Paralympic sport is high-performance sport that deserves to be treated in the same way able-bodied sport. "When you think of the Paralympics, you often hear the word disability, but I am trying to change the attitude to this word," he said.

This determination has led him to request the chance to compete in the Olympic Games, although he concededs it is unlikely to happen in Rio. "At the moment it’s looking quite difficult because the IAAF have asked that I prove there’s no advantage from my prosthetic leg. I would like to come together and find a solution because it would be a great chance to present our sport and be a great advert for the Paralympic Games."

REHACARE.com; Source: Rio 2016

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