Oscar Pistorius was a triple medalist at the Athens Paralympics, and holds three world records for disabled sprint events. The South African is aiming for four gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics.
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius has put the disappointment of not qualifying for the Beijing Olympics behind him and is confident of snaring three gold medals in the athletics at the Paralympics.
The 21-year-old South African, dubbed the ‘Blade Runner’ because of the prosthetic legs that enable him to sprint, won a legal battle in May for the right to participate in the Olympics, only to then fail to meet the qualifying time.
“It was a huge disappointment, it was something I’d been working for the last three years,” he told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Sept. 6-17 Games.
“The opportunity was given back to me and I had two and half months to try and qualify. Although I didn’t, it has opened the doors for the future of disabled sports and, for me, that alone was a great accomplishment. I didn’t make the Olympics this time, I’m hoping for the future.”
Pistorius thinks had it not been for the legal case with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)
which claimed the J-shaped blades gave him an advantage over able-bodied athletes—he might have qualified for the Olympics.
“Trips out to the U.S. for testing took a lot of time out of training and just the distraction and the pressure from that definitely influenced the training a lot,” he said.
“But I think you learn from these things and that was definitely a learning curve. I’m happy that I went through it because there was a lot of criticism before that but it’s put it all to rest so I’m really happy about all that.”
Pistorius begins his quest to better the one gold and one bronze medal he won at the Athens Paralympics four years ago when he takes part in the 100 metres heats at the Bird’s Nest stadium on Monday, the second day of competition.
He also runs in the 200 and 400m for his category of disability and in no way considers it a consolation prize for missing out on last month’s Games for the able-bodied.
“I never think that the Paralympics is a second class event,” he said. “Coming to the Paralympics, the competition is always strong and it’s a world class event. It’s on the same stage as the Olympics and it’s something I’m very proud to be a part of.
“I’d like to get three golds and if I can break a world record or two in the process, I’d really like that as well,” he added. “I’m confident, I’ve done my work so I should be on the right road to meeting my target of three golds.”
As for his future ambitions, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in May there was insufficient evidence that the “Cheetah Flex-Foot” gave Pistorius a “metabolic advantage” over other athletes.
He is therefore confident that his dream of competing in the 400m at the London Olympics in 2012 will be decided on the track and not in the courtroom, however quickly he is running as he reaches his peak as an athlete in his mid-20s.
“There’s no doubt that I’ll go faster and faster,” he said. “(But) you can’t suddenly say it’s the legs, these prosthetics have been around for more than a decade.
“There’ll always be a critic or two and that’s something, as an athlete, I have to accept ... (but) I know I don’t have to worry about that any more and can put that behind me.”
Date created : 2008-09-08