On July 19, Oscar Pistorius, a sprinter with bilateral, transtibial amputations, fulfilled a five-year-long quest to compete at the highest level against able-bodied athletes by qualifying for the world track championships, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.
Pistorius had his legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old because he was born without shin bones.
He qualified with a personal best of 45.07 seconds in the 400m at a meet in Lignano, Italy, which was well inside the 45.25 qualifying time. His posted time at the able-bodied competition ranks him as 15th fastest in the world, tied with Jermaine Gonzales of Jamaica, according to an Össur, Reykjavik, Iceland, press release. It also represents the first time Pistorius achieved the “A” qualification time required for eligibility on South Africa’s 2012 Olympic team.
Pistorius is set to be the first runner with an amputation to compete at an able-bodied world championship, which starts August 27 in Daegu, South Korea. According to the AP, the South Africa track and field association said Pistorius is “qualified for selection” and only can be bumped from the team if three South African runners post a better time before the approaching qualifying cutoff date.
Pistorius’ road to the worlds and possibly the Olympics included fighting a ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations after it ruled his carbon-fiber blades that have earned him the nickname, “Blade Runner,” gave him an unfair advantage. He took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won the right to compete against able-bodied athletes in 2008. However, he didn’t come close to qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He’s the world record-holder in the 100m, 200m, and 400m for disabled athletes, and a multiple gold medal winner at the Paralympics. His goal has been to run against able-bodied athletes at the Olympics.
He will run July 31, at a meet in Budapest, Hungary, and hopes to compete at the Diamond League event at Crystal Palace in London on August 5-6, where where he is looking to run another “A” time in preparation for his world championships debut.