One of the finest long jumpers in the world is Markus Rehm. Rehm has competed against elite para Athletics athletes and done quite well.
Stuart Weir helps us catch up with this amazing athlete and his exploits at the 2021 European Para Athletics Championships.
One large leap for mankind
Markus Rehm leapt to history on the opening day of the European Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Tuesday 1 June setting a new world record in the men’s long jump T64 with an impressive 8.62m. He also jumped 8.19 and 8.46 in his series.
The German blade jumper added 14 centimetres to his previous record, also set at the European Championships three years ago in Berlin, Germany. It was his eighth European Championships gold medal and fifth in the long jump.
“I feel amazing. To get the world record is always great. I did it a few times already, but it still feels special. I think it went well for me today”, Rehm said.
“This season was really well for me already. I had two competitions and in the first one, I was just one centimetre shy of the old world record. I am consistent at the moment and I need to stay healthy to keep the success coming,” the three-time Paralympic champion added.
His next challenge will be the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in August, where Rehm will be defending the world jump title from Rio 2016 and London 2012.
“It’s my main competition this year and I will try to reach my peak there. It is getting harder because I put my limit higher and higher. I’m in good shape and I hope I can jump some distances as I did in Bydgoszcz,” he added.
Dimitri Pavade from France took the silver medal with 6.98m, while Italy’s Marco Cicchetti managed to get the bronze with his season-best jump of 6.72m.
Only 15 athletes in the history of long jump – in able-bodied or Para athletics – have jumped further than the result achieved by the German athlete in Poland.
His performance keeps the question of whether he should be allowed to compete in World Athletics/IOC events firmly on the agenda. Rehm, who lost his lower right leg in a wakeboarding accident as a 14-year-old, competed in the German national trials (non-disabled) in 2014 and won with a jump of 8.24. The rules were that as winner of the trials he would automatically be selected for the European Championships in Zurich. However, the German Athletics Federation decided not to take him, because of doubts over whether a prosthetic limb gave a jumper an advantage over “able-bodied” athletes.
In 2015 Rehm’s world championship winning distance was 8.40m. That Greg Rutherford won the IAAF World Championship long jump the same year with a distance of 8.41m, puts Rehm’s achievement in context.
Rehm is honest in his position on the controversy saying: “At the moment we don’t have any data that can prove it either way”. He argues too that while he might have an advantage in comparison with a non-disabled athlete because of the extra spring at take-off with his blade, that is negated by his slower and less balanced run-up. He also asks why, if the blade gives para-athletes an advantage, are no other blade jumpers equalling his distance?
After winning in Doha 2015, Rehm spoke about his frustration that the onus seemed to be on him to prove that he did not have an unfair advantage rather than on the authorities to prove that he did. He said: “The IAAF says that I have to prove that I don’t have any advantage. That is not a good decision by the IAAF because you cannot put that pressure on the athlete. It’s not my job”.
I would love to see him allowed to compete in some Diamond Leagues for a start
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