IPC Athletics World Championships
19-29 July

No. 30: Markus Rehm’s historic 7.95m jump

Germany’s Markus Rehm jumped a distance this season that would have put him in the long jump final of the able-bodied World Championships. 02 Dec 2013 By IPC

“It’s definitely possible and I want to be the first one jumping 8m.”

It was the leap of the Championships: 7.95m.

No one in the world of para-athletics has ever jumped that far. That is, until Germany’s Markus Germany did last summer during the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France.

7.95m, a distance hardly anyone thought possible. Even Rehm and his coach, Steffi Nerius – a former IAAF javelin World Champion – didn’t think of it.

“We both knew that, if everything goes well, 7.50m would be possible,” Rehm said. “That’s what I had shown during practice and it was a realistic goal.”

“It was an intense moment. I felt that I hit the board perfectly, and when I landed I tried to get the most out of it. When I saw the 8m mark next to me I knew this was pretty good.

“I looked back at the officials and was happy when they raised the white flag. I thought 7.50m would be great, but then the 7.95m came up and I was just shocked.”

This jump would have secured Rehm a spot in the final of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

Never in doubt

The season has not gone all that well for Rehm, who had fractured his hand earlier in the season and had some muscular issues. And then there was bursitis in his right knee just before Lyon, which caused swelling and quite a bit of pain when he put on his prosthesis.

“I arrived at the venue on crutches, because of the swelling in my knee,” Rehm said, “I didn’t really get into the prosthesis, but I knew that when I put it on and walk or run on it for about 10 minutes, the pain will be gone and it will be OK.

“I only put it on just before the event when I had to warm up. I wasn’t in pain while jumping, the swelling was just not that comfortable.”

While some of his competitors might have thought they got a shot at beating Rehm, he was never in any doubt during the competition who would win the gold medal.

“After the 7.95m I could feel that they were shocked as well,” he said. “They knew it would be hard to beat me, but I don’t think they expected that.”

Pushing the boundaries even further

Rehm lost his right leg in 2003 in a wakeboarding accident. Even though he stayed active and fit throughout, he did not pick up athletics until 2008.

“I had done lots of athletics also before the accident, so I quickly picked it up again,” he said.“And soon, I realised that I do have some talent for that, so I decided to try doing it on a high-performance level.”

He then moved to Leverkusen in 2009, where he started to work with his coach Steffi Nerius, a highly decorated athlete herself in able-bodied athletics.

“Steffijustknows the right timing, she always gets me in shape in time for the season’s highlight,” Rehm said.“She has a big stake in this and I am very thankful for her support.”

After the successful Championships in Lyon, the 25-year-old went back to his normal life, doing one to two training sessions each day and working as an orthopedic technician.

But he is already looking ahead and setting himself new goals for the future.

“The next goals are the upcoming competitions next year, with theEuropean Championships in Swansea, and possibly also some national able-bodied events,” he said.

“And I do believe in the 8m. It will be really hard, I am realistic. But I believe in it, that’s what I train for, that’s my motivation in the winter.

“It’s always been so far away, and now it’s so close.

“It’s definitely possible and I want to be the first one jumping 8m.”

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