'Blade Jumper' Rehm targets own world record at Paralympics
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Tokyo (AFP) –
German "Blade Jumper" Markus Rehm is aiming to "attack" his long jump world record at the Paralympics -- and he believes the fast track in Tokyo can help him do it.
Rehm, one of the biggest stars in para sports, arrives in Tokyo in scintillating form, having obliterated his own T64 world record by 14cm in June to set a new mark of 8.62m.
That jump would have been enough to win gold at every Olympics since 1992, but Rehm believes he can leap even further when the Games open next Tuesday.
Three world records fell on the track at the Tokyo Olympics -- including in women's triple jump -- and Rehm is hoping he can benefit from the stadium's spongy surface.
"I heard that it's a fast track, a great track to jump," Rehm told reporters on Sunday.
"We've seen at the Olympic Games, the triple jump world record. It would be great to have a similar headline at the Paralympic Games."
Rehm is aiming to win his third straight Paralympic long jump title and his fourth gold overall, having also been part of Germany's victorious 4x100m relay team at the 2016 Rio Games.
He acknowledged that it would be "tough" to break his world record, but said he is feeling ready.
"My coach did everything to prepare me for this day, and I'm definitely going to try to attack this 8.62," he said.
"I think I'm in really good shape this year. I always try to compete at the best level at the main competition every year."
Rehm lost his right leg in a wakeboarding accident when he was 14, but turned his sporting energies to athletics to stunning effect.
Now he is aiming to find more success in Tokyo, although he admitted he had doubts last year when the Games were postponed due to the pandemic.
"I was sad for my last year, because I was in great shape. I had really great results in training," said Rehm, who turned 33 on Sunday.
"I thought 'will I be able to come back to this stage'? My coach made it happen. Together we made it happen to be in even better shape than last year."
Rehm said he felt "safe" at the Paralympic Village, despite the Games preparing to open as Japan battles record virus infections.
So far, 138 cases related to the Paralympics have been confirmed -- including two in the Village -- but Rehm said he didn't "have a negative feeling about it".
"They really take care that we stay in this close bubble -- the rules are very strict in the Paralympic Village," he said.
"I have never really experienced it that way, that athletes obey the rules that much."
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