Pissed-off Pistorius apologises for remarks after losing 200m
Blade-runner sorry for detracting from winner's triumph as he seeks to halt 'bad loser' talk
PARALYMPIAN Oscar Pistorius has this morning issued an apology for complaining furiously about being beaten in yesterday's T43/44 200m final by a Brazilian runner using much longer blades.
The South African superstar led the field going into the home straight but was overhauled by Alan Fonteles Oliveira whose powerful finish stunned the crowd in the Olympic stadium.
Afterwards a clearly shocked Pistorius, who set a new world record in the semi-finals, was less than gracious in defeat. He claimed that Oliveira and other competitors had an unfair advantage because they were running on blades that were too long.
"We are not running in a fair race here," Pistorius said to the cameras. "I'm not taking away from Alan's performance but I can't compete with Alan's stride length. It is absolutely ridiculous."
In this morning's apology, Pistorious admitted he should not have raised his concerns immediately after the race. "I would never want to detract from another athlete's moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments," he said. "That was Alan's moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him."
The apology comes a little late for those already questioning Pistorius's sportsmanship.
"It turns out the mild-mannered Pistorius, the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, isn't very good at coming second," the Daily Mail noted. "We knew he didn't like taking 'no' for an answer, but this lack of magnanimity in defeat was new, unwelcome territory."
The Guardian explained that Pistorius's problem is of his own making. Because he insists on competing in able-bodied competitions – he competed in the 400m at the recent London Olympics - his blades must be sanctioned by the IAAF.
"Longer blades, of the kind Oliveira used, are only legal in Paralympic events," said the paper. "If Pistorius switched, he would not be able to run in non-disabled competitions.
"The twist in the story is that it is the very fact Pistorius wants to run in the Olympics and other able-bodied competitions that cost him here."
The Times makes the point that, given his long battle to get accepted by the IAAF as an Olympic contender, "there was an obvious irony in hearing a man who has been at the centre of a global storm over whether he has an advantage over Olympians stray into the land of mudslinging".
The man who won last night's race, Oliveira, speaking before Pistorius issued his apology, said his blades were legal and he won the race fair and square. Commenting on Pistorius's remarks, the Brazilian said: "For me he is a really great idol and to hear that from a great idol is difficult."
Pistorius made it clear in today's apology that he still thinks there's an issue that needs resolving and he will be meeting with the International Paralympic Committee [IPC] to discuss blade lengths.
Meanwhile, the row has cut through what the Guardian called the "saccharine" coverage of the Paralympics, but at least it has provided a strong storyline. "The signature star may have lost a little of his lustre," the paper said. "But the Games have gained a rivalry that will shape how they are remembered in years to come." ·