German shot put star Niko Kappel is the reigning Paralympic and world champion in the F41 class. Here’s what he revealed about himself in World Para Athletics’ My Greatest series:
My greatest sporting achievement
I think it was Rio - the Paralympic Games in 2016. It was my first Paralympic Games and I won with only one centimetre, so it was so great. I’ll never forget that.
My greatest inspiration
I have two. The first is Mathias Mester, another German short stature athlete. He is a javelin thrower and I saw him in 2008 in Beijing and wanted to do the same as him.
I started training in athletics, doing shot put and javelin - I played soccer before – and I won the Paralympic gold medal in 2016.
The second was the London Paralympic Games because I was one of the 80,000 visitors in the Olympic stadium every day. It was so amazing. At the closing ceremony Coldplay was playing ‘Paradise’ and I’ll never forget this song. Every time I’m tired, or training is not good, I think about that song and I think, okay, I want to go back to the Paralympic Games!
My greatest challenge
I think it is myself. In 2014 I stopped straining and told the national coach it was my last junior championships. My coach said no, you can’t (stop). I started with another coach in Stuttgart and my first training sessions were so great – we changed the technique and I saw I can do it, maybe I can try to get to Rio. I had a new beginning in training.
My greatest sporting moment (outside of individual moments!)
For me as a soccer player my favourite club is VfB Stuttgart. In 2007 they won the German Bundesliga, so it was a great moment. In athletics, a great moment was when David Storl won the World Championships for the first time (in 2011). As a shot putter it was lovely.