Germany's 'Blade Jumper' ready for Rio Paralympics defence


Berlin (AFP)

Having abandoned an attempt to compete at the Rio Olympics, Germany's 'Blade Jumper' Markus Rehm will defend his long jump title at the Paralympic Games in the city.

The 28-year-old, who had his right leg amputated as a teenager after a wakeboarding accident, ended his fight to jump alongside able-bodied athletes in Rio de Janeiro due to doubts that his prothetic limb gives him an advantage.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules blocked Rehm from competing at an Olympics until he can prove his carbon limb does not give him an extra lift on take-off.

There has never been a definitive answer to the debate and after protracted discussions, Rehm abandoned his Olympics dream in July.

His personal best of 8.40m, set in Doha in October 2015, would have been enough to win the men's long-jump at the 2012 London Olympics and this year's Rio Games where Jeff Henderson claimed gold with a leap of 8.38m in Brazil.

"That jumped changed a lot for me and it showed to many people that we Paralympians are really amazing athletes," Rehm said in Rio during a recent visit.

"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."

Rehm won Paralympics gold in London four years ago in the F44 category with a then-world record of 7.35m and earned a bronze in the 4x100m relay.

He has won the world title three times in the F44 since 2011 and his nearest rivals on prosthetics are more than a metre behind him.

He jumped against 2012 Olympic champion Greg Rutherford in the Netherlands in June 2013, when the Briton leapt 8.24m with Rehm trailing at 7.44m.

The German, who trains in Leverkusen, has since improved significantly.

He has a job working in the German military, building prosthetic limbs, but his disability means he is unable to fight.

His achievements are considerable given the accident he suffered as a 13-year-old, on a family holiday in Wurzberg, when the propellor of a passing boat shredded his leg while he bobbed in the water while wakeboarding.

An infection, which left the teenager in agony, meant the leg had to amputated three days after the accident.