Mothers often tell their children that they can be anything they want to be. But when those words ring hallow, South African runner Oscar Pistorius can provide ample evidence to the truth behind these encouraging words.
Due to a birth defect, Pistorius had everything below his knee amputated as an infant. At that point, Olympic track sprinter should have been the first possible profession that was scratched off the list.
However, the 25-year-old has accomplished something previously thought to be unimaginable by not only qualifying for the Olympics, but competing at a remarkably high level as well.
Pistorius made his London debut on Saturday, marking the first time an amputee has ever taken part in a track event, as noted by ESPN.com. He finished the 400-meter race in 45.44 seconds and qualified for the semifinals.
Carbon fiber blades allow him to run and have earned him the nickname “Blade Runner.” However, these apparatuses have also caused controversy during Pistorius’ career.
The International Association of Athletics Federations came the bewildering conclusion that Pistorius not having legs gave him an unfair advantage and banned him from competing in the 2008 Games.
With the help of Jeffrey Kessler, who has represented the NFL and NBA Players Associations, Pistorius appealed the ban and was given back his right to compete in the Olympics.
In response to claims that his carbon fiber blades are futuristic creations that make him faster than his competition, Pistorius offered a question in return, via Jim Caple of ESPN.com:
The facts are this type of prosthetic leg has been used long before I was around and is still being used by other Paralympic athletes. If it was as much a technologically advanced piece of equipment that many people claim it is, then why isn't everyone running even close to the times I'm running?
Pistorius’ heart—not his prosthetics—has allowed him to reach this stage in his track career. He has earned every result, and he has done so against impossible odds.
While many athletes are breaking records, Pistorius has made history in an entirely different manner.
The Olympics may be full of human-interest stories, but few have ever been this inspiring. Pistorius’ story defies logic and redefines the limits of the human spirit. Regardless of his results, Pistorius is already a great Olympian.