‘Blade Runner’ warms up in Rome

Pistorius comes from the back to finish second in the Golden Gala 400m ‘B’ race.

Pistorius is known by his fans as the “Fastest thing on no legs” [Gallo/Getty]

Double-amputee, Oscar Pistorius, who races on carbon fibre blades attached below his knees, warmed up for his historic run in the British grand prix by finishing second in an invitational 400m at the Golden Gala athletics meet in Rome.

On Sunday, the 20-year-old Paralympic champion will run in the top-tier 400m at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Sheffield, in a field that includes Olympic champion, Jeremy Wariner.

It will be the first time an amputee has raced against able-bodied athletes in a top-tier international athletics meeting.

The South African came from the back of the pack in the final straight on Friday to finish in second place, after running the race from the outside lane 8

“I am not very happy about my time, but it’s still nice to be out on the track,” Pistorius said.

The South African finished with a time of 46.90 seconds, which was well off his personal best of 46.56.

Pistorius has been under intense media coverage since he was given permission to race in able-bodied races by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last month.

Watch the ‘Blade Runner’ in video

“I try and deal with the media attention the best I can,” Pistorius said. “It is a bit strange but I have to take it as something that comes with the sport.

“You just have to embrace it. I’ll be glad to go back home to South Africa next week and have a rest.”

Physical barrier

Pistorius still faces a barrier to making the step up to Olympic level amid claims the curved blades he runs on create an unfair advantage.

“If the IAAF decide to ban me, it will be something I’ll just have to deal with,” he said. “But it would be nice to feel that they were working with me, not against me.

“When I run, I run for myself. No one can take that away from me.”

Pistorius has been running in meets with able-bodied athletes in South Africa for the past three years. In March, he finished second in the 400m at the South African Championships.

As well as Wariner Sundays race will also feature former Olympic relay gold medalist Darold Williamson of the US, Commonwealth Games 400m champion John Steffensen of Australia, and former Olympic 400m hurdles champion Angelo Taylor.

“I am really looking forward to Sunday,” Pistorius said. “I’ll be up with a lot of the greats. I feel I have a lot to learn from them.”

Eye on Beijing

To make the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Pistorius would have to run a 46.3 before the July 2008 qualifying deadline – and get IAAF approval.

When I run, I run for myself. No one can take that away from me

The IAAF used high-definition cameras to film his race against Italian club runners on Friday for study purposes.

Pistorius was born without fibulas and was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee.

He began running in 2003 to treat a rugby injury, and nine months later won the 200m at the paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

He has set world records in the 100m, 200m and 400m in Paralympic events.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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