The men’s T43 sprinters (double-leg amputees) will compete separately from the T44 (single-leg amputees) over 200m and 400m at London 2017, and one man hoping to stand alone at the top of the world championship podium for the first time is Germany’s Johannes Floors.
The 22-year-old finished third behind fellow German David Behre and the USA’s Hunter Woodhall at the last World Championships in 2015.
And although he did strike global gold with his teammates in the men’s 4x100m T42-47 relay, an individual title is what he craves – especially after injury ruled him out of the 400m at Rio 2016.
“Everyone wants to claim gold but I want to claim it for sure. It’s my aim and my goal for the 400m,” said Floors.
IPC: You lowered Behre’s 100m and 200m T43 European records at the Paris Grand Prix in May – how pleased are you with your season so far?
Floors: So far it’s brilliant. My first races this season showed that I’m in good form - I broke my personal bests. We increased training this year - I’ve taken time out from my studies to train more professionally and see how it goes and it has paid off so much. It shows me I am on the right track and I’ll be able to run fast in London. We set no goals according to times so what I’ve run now is awesome, and we know we can run faster. So London will be even better.
You won relay gold at Rio 2016 but missed out on the 400m – what happened?
After we won the relay we were celebrating in the stadium - I jumped and it felt bad. As I have no cross ligaments in my knee, I injured myself. It was bad luck, and it was frustrating as I had to withdraw from the 400m. That’s why I’m not allowed to celebrate anymore. If you see me smiling in London that’s me celebrating – I’m jumping inside.
At the 2015 World Championships in Doha, Qatar you finished third behind Behre and Woodhall. Do you feel you can beat them now?
I think so. I’ve had a good season, to be honest I don’t know what Hunter is going to run. 400m is a mind race at least at the end, and I’m pretty strong in my mind. It’s going to be me first this time - it’s my goal, my aim.
Behre is the defending champion and won silver behind Liam Malone at Rio 2016 – what are his strengths?
It is just experience – he is ten years older than me and he’s been training since 2009 I guess. I got my first running blades at the end of 2013. I decided to amputate my feet in 2011. I had small feet, I wasn’t able to run far. As a child you don’t care about disability, or pain. I kept playing soccer with my friends until my feet hurt or my knees were bloody. As I got older I wasn’t able to participate so much in sports classes. Then I started to swim - you don’t have any weight on your feet. But I enjoy running way more. I started just wanting to run to get my fitness levels up, then you realise you are good enough to compete at international level, you just want to achieve more. That’s where I am now.
How well do you and David Behre know each other?
I first met him before I got my first blades - I competed in Berlin in 2013 but with daily leg prosthetics, just to test it out. We shared a room, he was a good guy and we had a good talk but as time goes by there is more rivalry.
We see each other at training – I know where he lives because he picks me up, or I pick him up. We have the same coach but we have different training schedules as we have to focus on different things. So we see each other there, but we don’t train together.
You beat Behre to European gold in Grosseto, Italy, last June - what will it take to beat him in London?
I guess it’s just to be fast. The year before (2015) I beat him in Leverkusen, but at the end of each season at the big competitions (Doha World Championships and Rio Paralympic Games) he beat me. This time it needs to be in London and I guess the deciding factor will be the last 100m – who can fight more.
Who else is a big threat?
I guess it’s Hunter. There are a few more from the USA like Nick Rogers or Aj Digby. But the times are showing it’s just the three of us.