Born: 22 November 1986
Country: South Africa
Height: 6’ 1 1/4” (1.86) in prosthetics
Nicknames: ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The fastest man on no legs’
Medals: Beijing 2008 Paralympic gold medals - 100m, 200m, 400m
Sport class: T(Track)44
‘You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have. You are able by the abilities you have.’
Oscar Pistorius was born disabled. He would never walk. Doctors cut his legs off below the knee when he was a baby. He learnt to walk using prosthetics.
He began to run after an accident playing rugby. He used special prosthetics for running - cheetah legs. He did not think he was disabled. Why would he? He could run as fast as able-bodied athletes - and that’s why he wanted to compete in the Beijing Olympics.
However, there was a problem. Some people thought his cheetah legs helped him run faster than able-bodied athletes. They didn’t want him to race in the Olympics. Then scientists showed that his cheetah legs did not help him run faster - he ran fast because he was a great athlete. So he was allowed to compete in the Olympics - but unfortunately he did not run fast enough to qualify that year. He ran in the Paralympics instead. He ran like lightning. He won three gold medals and set a new world record.
Now he’s going to try again. He wants to race in the 2012 Paralympics - and the Olympics. A lot of people think this is a very bad idea, but he wants to try and he thinks he can do it:
‘In 2008 I missed out by just under a quarter of a second and this season I have gone quicker.’
He certainly has gone quicker. In July 2011 he ran 400m in 45.07 seconds. The qualifying time for the Olympics is 45.30. With this time he could compete in the World Athletics Championship in Daegu. He was the first amputee ever to compete in this able-bodied championship. He had made history. And he won a silver medal!
Will he make his dream come true? He’s almost there. He just needs to get 45.30 once more to qualify for London 2012 - and the Olympics.
Will he make history again? Will he be the first Paralympian to run against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics? Watch this space!