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Double Amputee Runs in World Track Championships

Oscar Pistorious is running the 400 meters at the 2011 World Track and Field Championships. He also competed in the Paralympics in Beijing, but this is his first able-bodied World championship event.

He runs on prosthetic devices attached below the knees. Born without bones in his lower legs, he has been very active in sports since childhood when he played rugby, water polo and tennis. After a knee injury during rugby he took up running.

In 2004 he ran in the Paralympics at Athens placing well and winning the 200 meters, though he fell in the qualifying round. His winning time in the 200 was a world record for this class of competitor. Running on metal devices must be unnerving, because they don’t contain nerves and the components of the lower extremities that help with balancing, such as ten toes, foot muscles, and ankles.

He runs on Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetics which were created by a company in Iceland. Critics have said the devices give him an advantage over able-bodied competitors but this notion has not been proven scientifically, and has remained a controversial subject. This year’s administrators of the World Track and Field Championships clearly did not believe he has an unnatural advantage because they allowed him to enter the competition.

In 2005 he ran the 400 meters in the national able-bodied South African championships, placing sixth. (South Africa is his home and birthplace.) In 2008 he tried to qualify for the South African 4 x 400 relay to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He missed making the team by less than one second. He made the South African national team this year, by setting a personal best in  the 400 of 45.07. If he can run that fast in 2012 he could be selected again for the South African national team and compete in the 2012 London Olympics.

He is known for this quote: ”You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

Image Credit: Elvar Pálsson

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26 comments

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3:00PM PDT on May 10, 2013

thanks

12:21AM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

The South African sports authorities have had difficulties gaining acceptance for Oscar to compete in para-olympics despite his disabilities. He participates with able-bodied athletes in the main.
Then South Africa was unfortunate to have Caster Semenya cast aside and disallowed to participate internationally. This in turn led to her being barred locally. However, she was brought up and has lived as a female and still lives as a girl in a distant little village. When lawyers threatened to sue the Olympic body, they agreed to allow her to participate. She will participate in the London Olympics, but the Olympic body is going to change their rules for gender tests and she could very well hit the world headlines again and again be embarrassed about her sexuality. It could very well lead to Castor committing suicide, if she has to face the world press again disputing her gender on the front pages of newspapers. Apparently, over the years many female athletes have been barred in the past because of gender testing, not something male athletes need to endure....
Despite these setbacks, both Oscar and Castor deservidly enjoy tremendous support in SA ....

7:13AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

great story. thanks.

12:36AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

whoa truly inspirational and amazing!

10:46PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

This is an amazing man, with or without legs! Thanks Jake.

7:00PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

This is a lesson of life. Life is a gift from God and we must live it as best as possible. Oscar, that the blessings of God be upon you. Be happy.

6:42PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

He is an inspiration to other amputee's. I wish him luck!

6:27PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Excellent. I can't imagine a life growing up with no bones in the lower leg.

5:27PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Amazing...

5:13PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Great going Oscar. You have shown the world what sheer willpower can bring about. Amaazing effort on your part and a standing ovation to you on my part.

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