Oscar Pistorius' historic run

It has taken years of legal wrangling but Oscar Pistorius has finally made it to the Olympics


    It has taken years of legal action and a lifetime of athletic endeavour, but Oscar Pistorius has finally made it to the Olympic games.

    In 2008 the South African was banned by the athletics world governing body. He was told his blades gave him an unfair advantage.

    Now though he is free and fast enough to take on the best in the world and become the first ever amputee to run at the Olympics.

    "Just the thought of stepping out onto the track is something I can't imagine," he told Al Jazeera ahead of Saturday's 400 metre heats.

    "Just being here is a blessing. It's a humbling experience to represent my country."

    To get his ban overturned, Pistorius had to take his case to the highest sporting court in the world. It was there that scientists were to prove his blades did not give him an edge over able bodied rivals. And yet the innuendo and chatter about his right to be here continues.

    Interesting when taken in the context of the man who will be defending the 400 metre title. American Lashawn Merritt has been quietly accepted back into the athletic fold after serving a 2 year ban for a failed drugs test.

    Pistorius is way past caring what his critics have to say. "If I had to make a decision based on the five per cent of negativity that's out there I wouldn't be here. I can only focus on ability I do have. You know, I see other Paralympic athletes and it makes me very proud. They're focusing on what they can do, not what people say they can't do."

    Pistorius has used the same blades throughout his career. The argument he returns to time and again is that if the blades are that good, how come no other amputees are running comparable times. Any improvement in performance is, he says, down to his improvement as an athlete not because of any technological advancement. And it is as an athlete that Pistorius wants to be judged.

    "Fame is not going to make me run quicker, it isn't going to make my training easier or help me lose a couple of kilograms. If you're a musician or an actor fame is phenomenal, that's what makes your career.

    "But what makes our career is hard work and the talent we've been given. What's got you here is the people around you and the long hours on the track you've put in."

    He now has a target of reaching at the least the semi-finals of his individual event. And having won silver in the 400 metre relay at last year's World Championships, an Olympic medal is no longer a fanciful ambition.



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