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Double amputee Oscar Pistorius to compete in London Olympics

Despite falling short of South Africa's stringent qualifying standards, the nation's sports officials announce he'll be on their team to run the 400 meters, making him the first amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.

July 04, 2012|By Dan Loumena
  • Oscar Pistorius runs for the South Africa 1,600-meter relay team during the 2011 world championships.
Oscar Pistorius runs for the South Africa 1,600-meter relay team during… (Matt Durham / Associated…)

Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee known as the Blade Runner, will get to compete in the London Olympic Games in not only the 1,600-meter relay but also his favorite event, the 400 meters.

South Africa named Pistorius, 25, to the team as a competitor in the 400, making him the first amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics.

The multiple Paralympic champion announced on Twitter: “Will be in @London2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games! Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!”

Pistorius was born without a fibula in both legs, leading to the amputation of each leg halfway between the knee and ankle. He now has artificial limbs that are made of carbon fiber.

The spring-like step in his stride was considered an unfair advantage of able-bodied athletes and in 2007 the governing body of track and field, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, amended its rules to ban the use of "any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device."

But the Court of Arbitration, an international group that settles disputes, ruled in 2008 that Pistorius did not have an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes. Pistorius, though, did not qualify for the Beijing Games.

Pistorius ran a personal-best 45.07 seconds last year and opened this year with a 45.20, both Olympic-qualifying times.

But South Africa's Olympic-qualifying guidelines demanded he run 45.30 or better at one more international meet before last Saturday to seal a spot in the 400. He missed that time by less than a quarter of a second in his final qualifying race at the African Championships.

“Today is truly one of the proudest days of my life,” Pistorius said after South African sports officials placed him on the nation's Olympic team despite falling short of their stringent qualifying standards.

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