Oscar Pistorius: Victory In Court Only The Beginning For His Olympic Dreams

Ken FossAnalyst IMay 16, 2008

If anybody sums up the saying "being different isn't always a bad thing," it's South African Sprinter, Oscar Pistorius.

You see for Oscar, born without a fibula in either leg, running wasn't the first thing Henke and Shelia had in mind when before his first birthday they made the decision to amputate just below the knee.

But like all good stories, even little things like not having feet couldn't stop him.

After a knee injury in a rugby match in 2004, he took up running, and after qualifying for the Paralympic Games later that year in Athens, he won gold in the 400m,(47.34sec) 200m (in world record 21.97sec), and bronze in the 100m.

He became a celebrity in his country following those games, and in 2005 made waves world-wide by racing in the (abled bodied) South African Championships and finishing 6th. After the race he was invited to the IAAF Grand Prix, but was unable to attend do to scholastic commitments.

Then in 2006 he wowed the world by taking Paralympic gold in all three events, rebreaking his 200m time in dominating fashion.

In 2007, he broke his previous 400m time by almost a full second at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban. Two months later at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled held in Johannesburg, he would break his 200m time (21.54sec) and took the final disabled record in the 100m (10.91sec).

In June, the IAAF amended its competition rules to include a ban on the use of "any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device".

In November 2007, German professor Gert-Peter Brueggemann began testing the artificial limbs for the International Association of Athletics Federations. His studies concluded that it took 25 percent less energy to run at the same speed as an able bodied person. In an E:60 interview, he was later quoted saying that nobody should use his results as a complete argument against Oscar, saying, "More testing needs to be done."

At this point the fuse of a media firestorm was lit, as they took the study and ran with it, without looking or watching a single one of his races.

The negatives of the legs are there for everyone to see. Most notably, in the blocks the "blades" don't bend like a human foot, meaning that he has to lose precious seconds at the start. They are a pain to turn in, forcing Oscar to slow down to stay in the lanes. And as shown in his July 15th race in Sheffield, they are next to impossible to rely on in slick circumstances.

But the talking heads continue to insist he has an "advantage." I say preposterous.

What's next? Estrogen in women gives them an unfair advantage in less "physical" sports like golf, or race car driving?

The argument that a double amputee has an athletic advantage because he has no legs is utterly laughable.

And thankfully today the decision was overturned.

I understand the sentiment that you want to keep sports from becoming like the "Until Then" Puma ads, but that is not the case here. It's simply persecution of something not entirely understood.

With that out of the way, Oscar has just weeks to slice his times by almost a second across the board, if he is to have a chance to qualify and with a year of able bodied competition lost. It may take a relay team charity selection to see him in Beijing this summer.