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Blade Runner: Double amputee Oscar Pistorius on verge of qualifying for London Olympics in 400 meters

Mar 19, 2012, 11:14 AM EDT

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa comes out of the starting blocks during his men's 400 metres heats in Daegu Reuters

Or call him “the fastest man on no legs” if you prefer. Double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa — who runs with carbon fiber prosthetics called Cheetah Blades — is on the verge of qualifying for the London Olympics in the 400 meters. And we don’t mean the Paralympics. In 2011 he became the first disabled runner to win a medal in a major able-bodied track event, and on Saturday he ran the 400 in 45.20 seconds in a meet in South Africa, which is inside the Olympic qualifying time of 45.30. All he has to do is turn in one more time within the qualifying window in an international meet, and he’ll be on the South African team for the Olympics.

Born with a congenital absence of the fibula in both legs, Pistorius had both legs amputated halfway between the ankle and knee at age 11 months. So as he grew up he did the natural thing: competed in wrestling, rugby, water polo and tennis. After a rugby injury he took up running, and decided to specialize in that. Daily Mail:

“It’s wonderful,” Pistorius said of the qualifying run. “Five years of very hard work have gone into this and yet the biggest feeling is relief.”

As you might imagine, there’s been some bit of controversy over Pistorius being allowed to run in regular track meets, as many feel that he carbon fiber blades give him an advantage over able-bodied runners. But after first being turned down by the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2007, Pistorius was given the go-ahead to run in meets when the IAAF reversed its decision in 2008, ruling that the blades gave him no measurable advantage. He didn’t qualify for the Beijing Olympics, but he’s now on the verge of qualifying for London.

  1. goforthanddie - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    I would argue not having to deal with foot/ankle problems is indeed a competitive advantage, but I’m an ass. Good for him.

    • rodgersmvp - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Technically he had the worst foot/ankle problems

    • cur68 - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

      You’re right about the dearth of foot and ankle problems, but there are worse things that come with the blades. Those things are murder to turn corners in, slip on the wet, and are no where near as good ankles and feet at adjusting to change in terrain or stride. He needs to get it nearly perfect every time just to finish the race, never mind being competitive. I agree with you, BTW: Good for him.