- Van Rhijn wants to make running blades as easy to get as a pair of sports shoes -

Marlou van Rhijn has launched ‘Project Blade’ – a new initiative she hopes will encourage more children with disabilities to take up sport.

Van Rhijn runs with the aid of carbon fibre blades, is a double World and Paralympic champion as well as the World Record holder for the 100 and 200 metres.

However, the 25-year- old recalls just how daunting it was starting out and believes the complicated procedure of being fitted with running blades or bionic legs is a significant barrier to more children pursuing sporting dreams.

Project Blade aims to change that with a plan to make the process both enjoyable and exciting.

A group of children will be invited to the Nike store in to consult with a prosthetists expert, meet Marlou Van Rhijn and be measured for new running blades.

Van Rhijn said: “For most kids the sporting experience starts when they go to a shop to buy their gear, that thrill of getting new running shoes which will make you super fast. We want to give the exact same exciting experience to kids who need blades to practise sport.

“Early experiences are so important, they play a big part in defining your attitude towards sport for a long time into the future. By making it seamless, easy and fun we hope to encourage them to make sport a part of their life. Hopefully Project Blade can help to do that. This event is a great start and it is something we hope to repeat again and again in the future.”

Statistics show that disabled children are a lot less likely to participate in sport than able-bodied youngsters. Van Rhijn, who comes from Monnickendam and started off swimming before switching to the track, believes this can change if the barriers to participation are removed and the perception of disability sports is challenged.

“The joy of running is the same whether you need a pair of shoes or bionic legs to run. If we can educate the wider community about disability sport as well as giving children and young adults the tools they need to participate then I believe we will see numbers go up” Marlou van Rhijn added.

“It is about changing perceptions and also making sport an attractive lifestyle choice for the youngsters.”

To support the Marlou van Rhijn Foundation and its projects you can donate via NL20 INGB 0008 3339 00