For the first time in the history of the Olympic games, a double amputee will be among the runners, as Oscar Pistorius, now cleared to run among able-bodied runners, made the South African team for the games and will compete in the 400 meters and 4×400 meters relay races, completing another one of his many dreams.
In 2011, he became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. He didn’t participate in the final in Daegu (World Championships), made use of only during the semifinal, but as a member of that relay team, Pistorius won a silver medal and was a part of a group that broke the national record for the 4×400 race.
It’s been a long road for Pistorius, who wanted to compete in the Beijing Olympics four years ago but couldn’t. First because of rules, and then because he wasn’t fast enough. He took part in his first able-bodied competition in 2007, which garnered the attention of the IAAF, concluding that Pistorius has an unfair advantage, even over able-bodied runners. They quickly went on to ban the use of any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device. In general, not just against Pistorius, right?
After scientists monitored his performances, the IAAF came out with a ruling that barred him from participating in the 2008 Summer Olympic games in Beijing, but the decision was overturned by CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, deciding Pistorius had no advantage over able-bodied runners.
Still, Pistorius didn’t make it to Beijing. He couldn’t beat the 45.55 mark, the Olympic qualification time, and there were four South African runners faster than him that went on to run in the 4×400 relay race. Pistorius went on to star in the Paralympics, taking gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400 meters race. He owns the world record for disabled athletes in all three distances.
On July 19, 2011, Pistorius ran a 45.07 in Lignano, Italy. Not only a personal best, but more importantly, attaining the World Championships and Olympic Games ‘A’ standard qualification mark. A month later it was announced that he’ll run with the 4×400 meters relay team in the World Championships. The rest you know.
Unfair advantage or not, Pistorius, known also as the Blade Runner, will probably be one of the greatest attractions in London, whether he manages to reach an Olympic final or not. He doesn’t have medal winning times, although you never know in the very fluid 400 meters field. He might win one in the relay, hopefully getting a chance to compete in the final this time, if South Africa reach it.