Pistorius to make history with London 2012 selection
'Blade Runner' will become first double amputee to run at games after being picked for 400m
SOUTH AFRICAN Oscar Pistorius will make Olympic history by becoming the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Games after being selected to represent his country at London 2012.
Pistorius, nicknamed 'Blade Runner' for the prosthetic lower legs he uses to race, has been named in the South African team for the individual 400m and the 4 x 400m relay. He will also compete in the Paralympic Games, which start immediately after the Olympics.
"Today is truly one of the proudest days of my life," the 25-year-old said. "I am so pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together."
Pistorious had a ban on competing at able-bodied events overturned in January 2008. He missed out on qualification for the Beijing games by less than a quarter of a second, but now has his chance to race at the Olympics.
"After the bitterness, the court case, the in-fighting and the fallout, Oscar Pistorius will finally get to blaze an historic trail at the Olympic Games next month," writes Rick Broadbent in The Times. He calls the announcement the moment when "one of the most extraordinary of Olympic dreams came true".
The Daily Telegraph's Jim White says the news "epitomises the spirit of the Games" and dismisses critics who claim Pistorius's carbon-fibre blades distort his real running time. "That Pistorius has made it to the start line in Stratford is not a consequence of scientific aid," he writes. "He has made it by exercising the most extraordinary levels of grit, determination and mental strength."
That same point was emphasised by Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, when announcing their decision. "As I have said many times, we are not taking passengers to London," Sam said. "Everyone has met selection criteria and are genuine Olympic Games material."
Despite that insistence, picking Pistorius may raise eyebrows according to The Guardian, which calls it a "surprise last-minute decision". It says the runner's inclusion in the 400m individual event comes "even though he did not meet the country's qualifying criteria".