Will Paralympic Athlete Make Beijing?

Posted on: 23 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

The Olympic dream is on hold for Blade Runner.

Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius this week confirmed he will wait until next month before attempting to quality for the Beijing Olympics.

A ruling last week meant the double-amputee could compete against able-bodied athletes as his prosthetic limbs do not give him an added advantage.

The South African fought heavily for the ruling but his manager revealed he's not quite ready to start competing again.

Peet van Zyl said, "Oscar's not in any kind of shape to compete at the elite level at the moment.

"He and his coach are going to get out of the limelight and concentrate on training and working hard."

Pistorious will continue to compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m at a number of upcoming Paralympic meets, before turning his attention to taking on able-boding rival runners in July.

In order to qualify for the Olympics, Pistorious will need to lower his personal best by nearly a second from 46.33s to 45.55s.

In January, athletics' governing body the IAAF banned the 21-year-old from able-bodied events.

It was claimed Pistorious had an unfair advantage, but he disagreed and went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Pistorious spoke of his joy after hearing the news, saying, "We have an opportunity to chase my dream of participating in the Olympics - if not in 2008 in 2012.

"It's such a significant day in the sport - I'm so happy with the outcome. This is one of the best days of my life.

"I hope this silences the crazy theories circulating about my having an unfair advantage."

A CAS statement said that the IAAF had not proved competition rules had been contravened.

The panel also emphasised that their verdict only applied to the individual case of the South African.

Born in Gauteng Province, South Africa with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs, Pistorious has his legs amputated halfway between his knees and ankles when he was 11 months old.

Between the ages of 11 and 13, he played rugby in the Pretoria Boys' High School third XV as well as water polo and tennis.

Nicknamed "Blade Runner", he began running competitively four years ago to treat a serious rugby knee injury, and nine months later won the 200m at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.

Pistorious has set world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m in Paralympic events.

He finished second in the 400m at the South African national championships last year against able-bodied runners.

The 21-year-old added, "My focus throughout the appeal has been to ensure that disabled athletes be given the chance to compete and compete fairly with able-bodied athletes.

"I look forward to continuing my quest to qualify for the Olympics."

Pistorious has stood strong by his sporting motto ever since he burst onto the scene, claiming, "You're not disabled by the disabilities you have; you are able by the abilities you have."

Whether "Blade Runner" makes it to Beijing is another question, but the world is watching in anticipation to see if the first double-amputee on the circuit is good enough to compete with the planet's fastest runners in just over three months' time.

Mark O'Haire

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