August 10, 2011 — South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is victorious before his race at the World Championships in South Korea, later this month, even begins. On Monday, he was named to South Africa’s track and field team where he’ll be the first athlete to compete at the event — without legs.
And if he keeps clocking the speeds he has been, he could qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London — a dream come true for Pistorius!
But Pistorius’s dream is controversial for others. Usually, athletes with disabilities compete separately from athletes considered able-bodied. Pistorius is a 4-time Paralympic champion (Olympics for disabled athletes) but he’s always wanted to compete in races against able-bodied athletes.
For a while, he was banned from doing so because the International Association of Athletics Federation ruled in 2008 that his carbon-fiber “legs” (which is how he got the nickname Blade Runner) gave him an unfair advantage, making him faster than if he had regular legs.
Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was a baby after being born without the bones that run from the knee to the ankle (the fibula). Some predicted he would never walk.
Pistorius appealed the ruling to the Court of Arbitration in Sport … and won.* Though there is still much debate, people on both sides of the issue respect Pistorius for his amazing accomplishments and hard work.
And now the combination of being allowed to compete, and his improved race times, has earned him a spot at the highest levels of competition. Pistorius will be running the 400 m and the 400 m relay race at the World Championships.
Pistorius, by the way, doesn’t consider himself disabled. He says, “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have. You are able by the abilities you have.”
What do you think?
* The Court of Arbitration in Sport didn’t exactly rule that Pistorius didn’t have an unfair advantage, but they did rule that the International Association of Athletics Federation didn’t adequately prove that he did.