Pistorius to turn heads in London
WHETHER Oscar Pistorius crashes out in the heats or progresses to the final of the men’s 400 metres sprint, he is sure to attract plenty of attention when he takes to the track in his Olympic debut in London next month.
His participation at the Games is a victory in itself for the ‘Blade Runner’, as his victorious battle to compete with abled–bodied athletes will be crowned with an appearance on the greatest stage of all.
He made his first steps towards realising his dream when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) declared Pistorius eligible to compete against abled–bodied athletes in May 2008.
This followed an earlier ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after tests conducted at the Cologne Sports University ruled his J-shaped prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage.
Pistorius, however, challenged the findings and after further tests by his “own” scientists, CAS ruled in his favour.
Given little time to qualify after the ruling, Pistorius failed to book his place at the Beijing Olympic Games later that season and had to wait another four years for his dream to become a reality.
Following his entry into the 400m and 4x400m relay events, the debate as to whether or not he should compete has been reignited.
Regardless of the reasons given in both sides of the argument, however, Pistorius’ struggle to realise his dream has been the embodiment of the Olympic creed.
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle,” the creed reads.
“The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Pistorius recorded the qualifying mark once in the individual 400 metres event, and fell narrowly short of achieving the standard again to reach the stringent qualifying criteria.
As he was already included in the relay squad, however, as the fastest 400m sprinter in the country this season, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) agreed to enter him in the individual event as well.
“To have been selected to represent Team South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the individual 400m and the 4x400m relay is a real honour,” Pistorius said after he was named in the team.
“I am so pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together.”
Pistorius has made massive strides in the last four years, cutting 1,18 seconds off his personal best.
He set a career record of 45,07 seconds when he qualified for last year’s World Athletics Championships at a meeting in Lignano, Italy.
The ‘Blade Runner’ confirmed his class the next month at the global championships in Daegu, South Korea, when he reached the semi-finals of his specialist event.
Pistorius’ contribution in the heats of the 4x400m relay earned him a historic silver medal after the team finished second in the final.
While he may have received a lifeline from Sascoc to compete in the individual sprint, Pistorius has no intention of simply taking part.
“I am aiming to race well, work well through the rounds, post good times,” Pistorius said, “and maybe even set a personal best time on the biggest stage of them all.” – Nampa-Sapa