Germany’s charismatic thrower Niko Kappel only stepped up to senior international competition in 2015 – but within two years he was a Paralympic and world champion.
Kappel, who competes in the F41 class for athletes of short stature, won shot put silver on his World Championship debut at Doha 2015 with a personal best of 12.85m.
Less than a year later he had improved on that mark significantly, throwing 13.57m to take his first Paralympic title in Rio de Janeiro.
It was a nail-biting competition, with Kappel sitting in second place for four of his six attempts. In the end just one centimetre separated the German from Poland’s Bartosz Tyskowski, who had beaten Kappel to the world title in 2015.
Kappel received Germany’s national Silberne Lorbeerblatt award (Silver Laurel Leaf) in recognition of his performance at the Games; he was also presented with the 2016 Para Athlete of the Year Award by the National Paralympic Committee of Germany.
At the London 2017 World Championships Kappel clinched his first world title with a new best of 13.81m.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
He was presented with the Para Athlete of the Year Award in 2016 and 2017 by the National Paralympic Committee of Germany. (leichtathletik.de, 26 Nov 2017; paralympic.org, 29 Nov 2016)
He was named the Athlete of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012 by the TSF Welzheim club in Germany. (tsfwelzheim.de, 2013; wbrs-online.net, 26 Mar 2012; zvw.de, 21 Mar 2011)
He thought about quitting the sport in 2014, but after a change of coach he was inspired to continue, and went on to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "I stopped training and told the national coach that  would be my last junior championships. My coach said, 'No, you can't [stop]'. Then I started with another coach in Stuttgart and my first training sessions were so great, we changed the technique and I saw I could do it, [and] maybe I could try to get to Rio [2016 Paralympic Games]. I had a new beginning in training." (paralympic.org, 10 Dec 2018)
He has served as a member of the municipal council of Welzheim, Germany. (zvw.de, 29 Jul 2017)
|Men's Shot Put F41||Final 1||2015-10-24||2|
|Men's Javelin F41||Final 1||2015-10-28||8|
|Men's Shot Put F41||Final Round||2016-09-08||1|
|Men's Shot Put F41||Final 1||2017-07-20||1|