How I Got into Para athletics: Johannes Floors

Get to know the German sprinter before he goes for gold at August's Berlin European Championships 13 Jul 2018

“You have to imagine, I wasn’t able to run properly for 16 years. Then there is someone giving you the opportunity to run; to feel wind and to feel speed. This is what I never want to lose”

When Germany’s Johannes Floors was 16-years-old he chose to have both his lower legs amputated below the knee.

“I’m really glad about my decision,” explained Floors, who was born with no fibulae, shortened shins and underdeveloped feet.

“I always call it the best decision I’ve ever made in my life just because it gave me so much.

“It gave me the opportunity to walk and run without pain, to have another view on the world and to be on an eye level with people – that’s what I never had before.”

After his amputation, Floors opted to study sports at senior school - the coursework involved taking part in a triathlon. Up until then, Para athletics had not been something he seriously considered.

“To be honest, I just wanted to show others what is possible with prosthetic legs,” explained Floors.

“I signed up for ‘A’ levels with sports without even knowing how it is to have prosthetics. I just started with my class playing hockey, basketball, volleyball – everything. I just got in to sports and with the triathlon we had to do, I started to get into running and from that athletics.”

Soon after, Floors was put in contact with Joerg Frischmann, Germany’s Para athletics team manager at major events and the Director of Sports for Persons with a Disability at TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

“He asked me if I wanted to try training and this is where it all started,” added Floors, who had focussed on swimming as a youngster, winning silver and bronze medals at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

Prior to his operation, athletics had never been an option – the German never used a wheelchair. Swimming was the only sport he could do without suffering pain in his feet.

But when he tried running on prosthetics for the first time, the Bissendorf-born teenager experienced a sense of freedom and speed that he had never felt before.

“You have to imagine, I wasn’t able to run properly for 16 years. Then there is someone giving you the opportunity to run; to feel wind and to feel speed. This is what I never want to lose,” he said.

Floors’ first competition was in Berlin at the German Championships.

“I didn’t have any running legs so I competed in my daily prosthetic legs. I ran the 100m in about 17 seconds, but it was fun,” laughed Floors (he clocked a world lead 10.79 in June this year).

“It didn’t put me off. We were in the process of making the running legs, so we knew it was going to be better.

“Going to fit the running blades, trying them on; the first time you feel something you can call speed and you can call running is really, really awesome. It’s an amazing feeling.”

In 2015, Floors pulled on the senior German vest for the first time, competing at the Doha 2015 World Championships where he won gold alongside his teammates in the 4x100m T42-47 relay and individual bronze in the 400m T44.

The following year brought Floors further success – three gold medals and a bronze at the Grosseto European Championships, and relay gold at the Rio Paralympic Games.

Then came the London 2017 World Championships last July – Floors’ meteoric rise to the top continued as he clinched 200m and 400m T43 gold, relay gold and 100m T44 silver.

“To be honest, to look back it’s really awesome. I’m really proud of myself and proud of all the team behind me and what we have achieved.

“I competed in Rio and won gold in the relay; I competed in London World Championships and got my first individual titles – awesome.”