World Record Holding Sprinter Receives New Prosthetic Legs In Oklahoma

Wednesday, December 9th 2020, 5:47 pm
By: Karl Torp

This week in Oklahoma City, a world class athlete is learning how to compete on new legs.

Right now, the double amputee’s biggest challenge is actually off the track.

Blake Leeper ran his first competitive race in 2009 at the Endeavor Games in Edmond.

Minutes after winning, he was invited to join the U.S. Paralympic team and started competing international.

“We were all disabled together. It was a club that I belonged in,” said Leeper.

Leeper’s speed showed he belonged in another club as well, competing against the world's fastest able-bodied athletes.

After qualifying for the World Championships in 2018, the World Athletic Association, a division of the IOC, told Leeper his prosthetic legs gave him an unfair advantage because he was too tall.

“The message that they are saying is because you are disabled, because you are missing legs, you aren’t allowed to run at 6 feet 2 inches," he said.

The world record holder’s competition height is based on Leeper’s wingspan of more than 6 feet 2 inches.

That's what brings Leeper back to Oklahoma this week. He's getting shorter legs.

“Every millimeter of movement changed the way he runs,” said prosthetist Kyle Wagner with Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research in OKC.

Wagner has Leeper running at his legal competition height limit of 5 feet 8 and half inches, a half foot less than Leeper’s wingspan.

Leeper is now legally challenging the formula used that makes him sub 5 feet 9 inches tall.

His legal team hopes the International Court of Justice will make a ruling before next year's Tokyo Olympics.

In meantime, he prepares for Paralympic events with shortened prosthetic legs.

“I want him on the verge of being out on the 100,” said Wagner.

Leeper may add the 100 meters to his lists of Paralympic events.

He’s the Paralympic world record holder in the 400 meters.

“If I keep showing up and keep fighting, I have faith and belief that things are going to turn my way,” said Leeper.