Wednesday, August 6, 2008
It’s probably true to say that Henke and Sheila Pistorius watched the 2007 Golden League meet in Rome with more than a tear in their eye. They were watching their son, Oscar cruise into 2nd place at the 400 meters. What made this such a heartfelt victory is the fact that Oscar was born without the main bone in his leg. Before he was a year old he had both legs amputated between the knee and calf.
His remarkable ascent into top level sprinting is inspiring. His love of sports didn’t start with running. He was an avid water polo and rugby player growing up but his love for running. However, his success in Rome came amid controversy. Other able bodied athletes complained that Oscar had an unfair advantage due to the spring is the cheetah blades that he wears when running.
It’s almost a telling tale of sports in this day and age that a man that runs on no legs is considered a threat. Yet the World athletic federation (IAAF) changed the rules to disallow athletes who used springs to compete with able bodied athletes. Obviously this was a rule change directed squarely towards Oscar.
He appealed to the sports court in Monaco. He had that ruling overturned when he was able to present his own expert testimony (that supported the notion) his spring running bladed didn’t aid him artificially in any way or form.
Oscar’s eye was on the Olympics in Beijing 2008. Unfortunately he was unable to meet the qualifying time for his country of South Africa. If not for that he would have been the first amputee to participate in an able bodied Olympic games. He is not phased by this in the least. He says he is looking towards the 2012 games in London, UK where he will be stronger and be at the peak age for running.
Oscar has gone through a lot of adversity in his life, and I’m sure he will succeed in the future. He truly deserves the moniker of Blade runner, not only for what he runs on but for what frontiers he challenges by overcoming his disability. nytimes sportsillustrated