Paralympic Games
7-18 September

What makes the perfect…long jump?

Germany’s Paralympic, world and European champion Markus Rehm explains what it takes to jump over eight metres. 08 May 2016
Imagen
a male from Germany wearing red and black clothes competing in the long jump

Markus Rehm at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships Doha

ⒸGetty Images
By IPC

I love jumping, and so if I don’t jump for a week I am really happy to jump again, because I think I am in such good shape, I want to jump, and I want to show what I have achieved in training.

Twelve months ago Germany’s Paralympic, world and European champion Markus Rehm smashed his own long jump T44 world record, leaping a phenomenal 8.29m.

The 27-year-old went even further at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, last October, registering a huge jump of 8.40m a jump good enough to have won him London 2012 Olympic gold.

Now for this May’s ‘What Makes a Perfect…’ Rehm talks us through the long jump, and what it is that helps him be the best in the world.

What is key for the perfect long jump?

I think the first is that you have to work hard just before it – so that you are well trained. Then I always really rest, especially for one week before the competition. Other athletes might jump two days before the competition; I’m never going to do that.

I stop jumping more than a week before the competition so I am really relaxed. I know that I have trained very well and I don’t have to think of it much because I know ‘Okay you did everything for your success and now you just have to give your body the time to get all the power and to be happy for the competition.’

I love jumping, and so if I don’t jump for a week I am really happy to jump again, because I think I am in such good shape, I want to jump, and I want to show what I have achieved in training.

I always have to smile on competition day too, because if I am not in a good mood I think I can’t jump very well!

What about the jump itself?

You need to do a good a good run up and take off – everything has to be okay – you have to hit the board properly. I think that is one of the most important parts of the actual jump. You need to hit your blade in the right position and lift your other leg quite high and aggressively, and just enjoy the flight.

How hard is it to keep the same stride in your run up to ensure you hit the board correctly every time?

You train a lot for this and you just have to think ‘I have to do it like always.’ Now I’ve made my run up longer – for me my trigger is that I don’t make small steps before.

Some people look like they dance in front with little steps and strides – I just start straight. I just go on my mark and I start running, like I do in training. You have to trust yourself - you have trained for it, so the competition will be okay.

Where do you look when you are running down the runway?

I just look up during the take off. I already have looked down a bit to see where I’m going, because if you are in the air you can’t change your direction of jumping. I like to look up on the right too if there is a board which shows the distance. But I try not to think much – just keep my legs up as long as possible.

How important is an aerodynamic body position while you are in the air?

This is of course important too – for the landing I have my head quite close to my knees. For me it is important to keep the blade up because I often leave it as the last mark in the sand. I also do it in training, my coach is not happy about it! In competitions I don’t often do it, I am more able to keep the blade up. You have to keep the blade a bit higher so it doesn’t touch the sand before the rest of your body.

What about the landing?

When you land it is important not to fall backwards. I just throw everything in to the sand – when I shower at the end of the day’s training I find sand in my hair, in my ears – everywhere!

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