Paralympic and world long jump champion Markus Rehm has “not given up hope” of competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after a study into whether his prosthetic blades give him an advantage returned inconclusive results.
The German believes the findings from the study, conducted by German Sport University along with the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tokyo, have given his chances of representing his country at the Olympics a boost.
It revealed there could in fact be some disadvantage to use the prostheses, but Wolfgang Potthast of the Institute of Biomechanics and Orthopaedics at the German Sport University Cologne also claimed “in the movement techniques, we noted an advantage due to the improved jump efficiency”.
The study found the prostheses enhance the jump itself but had an adverse effect on the athletes’ start.
“We saw disadvantages in the run-up for athletes with amputations of the lower thigh that we could determine were due to the prosthesis,” he said.
“These are two completely different movements and cannot be offset.”
A working group was established concerning the use of prostheses by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who ruled athletes attempting to compete alongside their able-bodied counterparts must prove it does not give them an advantage.
Currently the rule prohibits “the use of any mechanical aid, unless the athlete can establish on the balance of probabilities that the use of an aid would not provide him with an overall competitive advantage over an athlete not using such aid.”
Rehm, who triumphed in the F44 event at the London 2012 Paralympics, will now speak with the IAAF concerning the issue.
The 27-year-old broke his own world record with a jump of 8.40 metres at last year’s International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Doha.
The distance was further than the 8.31m managed by Britain's Greg Rutherford to win the Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
It was thought his hopes of becoming only the second athlete to participate at the Olympics using a blade, after the now disgraced Oscar Pistorius competed in the 400m and 4x400m relay at London 2012, had been dashed when the German Olympic Sports Confederation made it clear they will refuse to select him.
“One could not determine an advantage through the prosthesis and that makes me happy,” Rehm said at a press conference today.
“I have not given up hope of making it to Rio.
“It is not about medals but about presenting Paralympic sport.”