Some of you may already be familiar with Oscar Pistorius and his struggles as a track sprinter to try and qualify for the 2008 Olympics. The 20-year-old already has a remarkable record, with a gold medal in the 200m and world records at the 100m and 400m. But they are while competing as a Paralympian. Pistorius is a double amputee who was born without fibulas and uses special carbon fiber blades as his lower legs during running events.
The athlete has repeatedly asked to compete with able-bodied Olympian wannabes to see if he can truly win at their game. But officials have been reluctant to let the lad enter able-bodied track events because they believe his prosthetics may give him a mechanical advantage.
Pistorius, nicknamed Blade Runner, already has run in “regular” meets and done very well, clocking a 46-second 400 as a PR and finishing second in his most recent competition at the South African Championships. But the International Association of Athletics Federations has not been swayed to date. That may change after this upcoming weekend, when Pistorius competes at an international track meet known as the British Grand Prix. Both his performance and the intense press attention could tilt the scales in his favor (“The Blades Versus Shades,” from UK Athletics).
“There’s absolutely no reason why they should keep me from running,” he told the British press recently. “These prosthetics have been around for 14 years, the exact same design. There’s never been an amputee to run close to my time.”
The question this weekend is whether able-bodied runners will be able to run close—or better—than his time as well.