My Para Athletics story - David Behre

Among the plethora of extraordinary routes para athletes have taken into the sport, German blade runner David Behre's backstory is as harrowing as they come.

20/03/2017 00:00

Behre, the T43 400m world champion and quadruple Paralympic medallist, wasn't born into para sport. In 2007, at 20 years of age, the German was undertaking an IT apprenticeship, playing football, motocross and without the aspirations of a world-class sprinter.

“I was 20 years old and a normal guy with legs. I was doing an apprenticeship in the IT business," Behre recalls, before opening up about the day which changed his life.

"One day I was riding my bike and reached an open train gate. I was on the crossing and a train just came and hit me. My right leg went under its wheel and I was dragged along. And, yeah, from there I had no legs."

Given the horrific nature of his injuries, Behre's description event a decade ago, from which he needed both legs amputating, is blunt and understandably short. Instead, it's the Germans recollection of the days in its immediate aftermath which is the most powerful of his memories.

“I was in the hospital and saw athletes running and winning with the carbonfibre prostheses. To see that was so motivational and inspirational," says Behre. It was from this moment that he set himself new goals.

"I said to everyone that I need this prosthesis. I’ll be a sprinter, that’s my new life. My big goal was to compete in the Paralympics in London."

And so he did. The amputee sprinter competed over the 200m and 400m, coming seventh and fifth before forming part of Germany's bronze medal-winning relay quartet. Since then Behre has gone from strength to strength.

His first world title, the T43/44 400m gold at the last World Championships in Doha, marked a box ticked on his quest to the top. He then headed into the Rio Paralympics as favourite, only to lose out on gold to New Zealand's Liam Malone by three-hundredths of a second in the 400m, and winning bronze in the 200m.

The German will target both events in London this summer, but is most determined to retain the 400m crowd he won in Qatar.

“I’m so confident I'll do a good job. I want to defend my 400m title. We’ll try with the relay team too to defend our title. The atmosphere will be great," Behre says.

But now 10 years on from his fateful accident, at 30 and at the peak of his powers, the German is looking at London as an opportunity for complete closure.

"I think the journey is complete when I reach these goals and win the gold medal 10 years after my accident," he says.

“I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved in these last 10 years. Everyone came and said that was too big a goal for me, I can’t reach it. But I reached it. I’m mentally strong. For me it’s everything. The sport is my passion. I give my life and earn money with my sport."

David Behre will look to defend his T44 400m title on Friday 21 July. Visit https://tickets.london2017athletics.com/ to purchase tickets.