Oscar Pistorius 2012 Olympics: Why All Eyes Are on Blade Runner
The biggest story in the 400-meter dash at the London Olympics is about a guy who might not even advance to the semifinals.
South African Oscar Pistorius is the "fastest man on no legs" and will be going up against some very strong legs in the 400 and 4x400 relay. He was born without fibulas, leading to double amputation below the knee. He's done pretty well for himself on his new legs, using Cheetah Flex Foot carbon fiber limbs to get around the track in 45.07 seconds (his personal best).
The sheer uniqueness of the spectacle when Pistorius steps on the track will command everyone's attention. A legless Olympic sprinter? Sounds like the punchline to a tasteless joke.
Getting to the Olympics has been tricky for Pistorius, whose eligibility has been a subject of intense debate over his career. Do the blades give him an unfair advantage? Many claim they do, and if he were a medal threat, the debate would be boiling over.
He's not a medal threat at all, however, at least not in his individual event. He has stated that his goal in the 400 is to make it to the semifinals, which he was able to do at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. He does, however, have a chance to make the podium in the 4x400 relay, as the South Africans won silver at the Daegu meet. It may intensify the debate if the team wins a medal, but there seems to be overwhelming support for him at the moment.
After all, who would be dumb enough to speak out against him on Twitter?
Don't answer that if you're reading this, Michel Morganella.
In reality, once these London Games are over, Pistorius' times will not be important. Whether or not he makes the semifinals will be irrelevant. What matters is the everlasting image he will leave us with when the carbon fiber hits the track.
The world will be watching, and his presence itself is historic.
The 400-meter preliminary heats begin at 5:45 a.m. EDT on Saturday. They will be re-broadcast in the evening on NBC.
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