Project Blade by Marlou van Rhijn

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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. Van Rhijn has partnered with sport brand Nike and Ottobock, the prosthetics
manufacturer, with a plan to make the process both enjoyable and exciting.

To try out the new approach during the week of October 16, a group of children will be invited to the Nike store in
Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat to consult with Ottobock, meet Marlou Van Rhijn and, if suitable, 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.”

“Ottobock mission is to enable people with mobility challenges to have better quality of life. Active lifestyle and sport
has major physical, mental health and social benefits for everyone and especially for children. Getting and reimbursing
sport prostheses is often complicated and challenging process so we are excited for the opportunity to lower this barrier
and provide Ottobock technologies to children”- Hub van den Boomen, Ottobock’s marketing and communications
director says.

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.”

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for more information and interviews:

Caroline Feith
Pro Sports International BV