TOKYO: German ‘Blade Jumper’ Markus Rehm clinched gold at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Wednesday, but failed to beat his own gargantuan long jump world record.
The 33-year-old set a new T64 record in June of 8.62m, which would have won him gold at every Olympics since 1992, and has set his sights on breaking it again in Tokyo.
An 8.18 jump was his best effort on a cool, drizzly evening, but it was more than enough to give him his third consecutive title and fourth Paralympic gold medal overall.
Rehm said he was happy with the gold but disappointed he couldn’t jump any further.
“It was definitely on my mind,” he said of the record. “I was aiming for a slightly longer jump but that’s the way it is. The objective was to win the gold medal, and maybe we can attack the 8.62 another time.
Rehm had wanted to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer and said he still hadn’t received an explanation why he couldn’t.
“It’s fine to make the decision that I can’t compete, but to make a decision without telling me why is just a shame,” he said.
Before Rehm’s appearance, Tunisia’s Raoua Tlili won her second gold medal of the Games with a world record discus throw in the F41 final, beaming and jumping for joy at the result.
There was controversy elsewhere however, with International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence condemning what he described as a wave of abuse on social media after a Malaysian shot putter was disqualified and missed a gold medal for not showing up on time.
Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was allowed to take part in the F20 final on Tuesday night despite being late to the call room.
He finished first, breaking the world record and winning gold. But later, a referee and jury both determined he had no good reason to be late.
Zolkefli and two other athletes were late, with Spence claiming they hadn’t heard the rally announcement or it was in a language they didn’t understand.
“But all the other athletes were on time,” Spence said.
The gold went instead to Ukrainian Maksym Koval, who Spence said was “now getting a lot of abuse from the Malaysians”.
“People say the Ukrainian stole the gold. No, absolutely not. The Ukrainian had nothing to do with it. It was the athletes who were behind,” Spence said.
On the eighth day of competition in Tokyo, 43 gold medals were at stake.
Tokyo’s first gold medal in boccia, a sport similar to boules designed for athletes with neurological conditions that impact motor function, went to Adam Peska of the Czech Republic.
With almost all spectators banned from the Paralympic Games for fear of the coronavirus, athletes have had little opportunity to interact with Japanese audiences.
But American high jumper Sam Grewe, who won T63 gold on Tuesday, shared a letter online given to him by a Tokyo 2020 employee that describes the athlete’s impact on his family.
Grewe’s leg was amputated after he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his knee as a teenager, and in his letter, Masaki Kando said his 13-year-old son was also diagnosed with a tumor in his knee and had undergone a treatment known as rotoplasty.
“I was very anxious,” Kando admitted of his son’s treatment, saying his family heard about Grewe on social media.
“High jump the world champion!” You have given my family a lot of courage. We are grateful to you.
Grewe, who is training as a doctor to increase the representation of people with disabilities in medicine, said of the letter: “Win or lose, that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s worth it,” he added on his Twitter account.
Posted in Dawn, September 2, 2021