Reigning F43 discus and javelin world record holder Akeem Stewart of Trinidad and Tobago is targeting becoming the 13th athlete to compete at both the Paralympic and Olympic Games at next year’s event in Rio de Janeiro.
Stewart, who won double gold at this year’s Parapan American Games in Toronto, will participate in International Association of Athletics Federations-sanctioned events in order to try to achieve the Olympic qualifying distance.
The 23-year-old’s throw of 63.03 metres in the discus event at the Parapan American Games was just 2.97m shy of the Olympic standard of 66m.
He has already achieved the Paralympic qualification distances in both the discus and javelin events.
“For the Paralympic movement in Trinidad, when the possibilities of successes such as this, it is important for encouraging other persons that are differently abled to come forward and realise that sport is something I can do and excel at a very high level,” Trinidad and Tobago Paralympic Committee President David King said to Trinidad & Tobago Newsday.
“Akeem has shown that he possesses great talent and if he does indeed secure Olympic qualification, it will definitely be a great day for our nation’s Para-athletes.”
Stewart, who earned discus bronze at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Doha, was recently rewarded for his double gold medal success in Toronto by the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC).
He was given a cheque for US$6,000 (£4,000/€5,500) for his achievements by TTOC President Brian Lewis and Huey Cadette, Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, at Dutch Fort.
“We have an athlete who is able to cross both dimensions (Olympic and Paralympic) of the sport,” Lewis said.
“It is a tremendous opportunity and credit to him and the NAAAs, his coaches and family for giving him that much needed support through it all.
“We very much want to encourage him to press on.
“We look forward for him not only to qualify for the Olympic Games, but to also medal at the Paralympic Games in particular.
“This would be a great feat if he can qualify for both world events.”
Paralympic and world champion long jumper Markus Rehm also harboured hopes of being allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes before his ambitions were dashed by the German Olympic Sports Confederation, who opted not to select him.
Rehm broke his own world record with a jump of 8.40m at this year’s World Championships, further than Britain's Greg Rutherford achieved when winning the Olympic gold medal at London 2012.
There were concerns, however, that his prosthetic blade would him an unfair advantage over over athletes.