Oscar Pistorius is an inspiration to those who know him. As you would see in the picture, he is the fastest man … on no legs. Pistorius is the current world record holder for double amputees on the sprint events (100m, 200m and 400m) and he has been dominating the Paralympics for quite some time now. He has done these feats through the use of carbon fiber transtibial artificial limbs or simply “cheetah blades”. If you compare his record times with the winning times during the last Olympics (yes, the REAL Olympics), his clocking will only be off by a second or two from the gold medalist’s.
To further his legacy and forward the idea that athletes with similar conditions such as his predicament, the 21 year-old native of South Africa tried something that would’ve been unheard of years ago. He has officially asked the International Association of Athletics Association (IAAF) to allow him to compete for the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. His official times are within the cutoff qualifying times set for non-Paralympic athletes and it’s quite clear that Oscar doesn’t give up an ounce of pride or determination to any of the other “limbed” competitors.
This had the makings of a fairy tale human interest story. After all, who wouldn’t want to see an athlete like Pistorius – someone who had a congenital deformity that forced doctors to amputate his legs when he was only 11 months — represent his nation and serve as inspiration to a lot of people? It was definitely going to grab headlines and would have definitely landed Oscar stints in countless talkshows.
Unfortunately, the IAAF intervened. The regulatory body for track and field events ruled that the “cheetah blades” allow Pistorius to run at high speed while exerting relatively less effort compared to other athletes who run without the benefit of using advanced suspension technology. Though Pistorius has vowed to appeal the decision, it is going to be unlikely to see cheetah blades on the track later this year in Beijing.
It’s very debatable and makes for a good conversation. On one hand, here’s a guy with no legs armed (pun intended) with advanced technology to make up for his missing limbs. On the other, there’s an athlete in excellent physical condition – no missing limbs — who can still propel himself without using advanced equipment. Stopping Pistorius from racing against the world’s best could only make people wonder more. What if the man on blades were given a chance?