High jumper Isaac Jean-Paul only made his Para athletics debut this year, but he’s already soaring to spectacular heights.
The American won high jump T13 gold at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, Great Britain in July, and he did it in remarkable style – breaking the world record no fewer than three times on his way to the top of the podium.
The 24-year-old’s achievements – he also won long jump T13 bronze at London 2017 – not only mark him out as a force to be reckoned with in years to come, they also secure him 21st place in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2017.
In fact, Jean-Paul had provided an early indication of just what he might be capable of when he qualified for the World Championships with what was then a new high jump T13 world record of 2.10m at the US Trials in Los Angeles in June. That mark added seven centimetres on the previous best which had stood for 14 years.
At London 2017 – his first major Championships – Jean-Paul opened with a jump of 2.00m before going on to clear 2.11m at his first attempt.
Next, the Chicago athlete - who measures 5’9” (1.75m); by no means tall for a jumper - flew over 2.14m. Then he notched up a third consecutive world record after the bar was raised to 2.17m, finally bowing out at 2.20m. He was the only competitor to go over the two-metre mark.
“I could not hope for a better result,” said Jean-Paul afterwards. “I was thinking about the world record but in the competition, I just knew I wanted to go over the bar and jump these heights.”
Jean Paul competes in the T13 class for visually impaired athletes, having been diagnosed with macular degeneration in both eyes. But when it comes to the high jump, he believes his lack of vision is no obstacle, telling teamusa.org earlier this year:
“I think I have an advantage in the high jump because I can’t even see the bar. A lot of high jumpers look at the bar during their entire approach, so they see the actual height.
“Me on the other hand, I really don’t see it, so I’m just going up on feel. In my last two steps, that’s when I see the bar. I think that’s an advantage because of the mental aspect of the sport.”
The countdown of the IPC’s Top 50 Moments continues until 31 December.