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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Enabled Not Disabled
Oscar Pistorius: ‘The Fastest thing on no legs’

By Nico Bougas
Special to ASSIST News Service

SOUTH AFRICA (ANS) -- Oscar Pistorius is an inspiration and one of the world’s great sporting icons who was voted in Time Magazine's top 100 People of Influence.

Oscar Pistorius in action

This 25-year old South African, described as “the fastest thing on no legs”, is a real-life champion, and no fictional figure.

He was born with missing fibulae in both his legs due to a congenital condition. Before his first birthday, his legs were amputated below the knee.

At school he excelled in rugby and water polo, but a knee injury terminated his rugby career.

He was introduced to athletics while undergoing rehabilitation.

Oscar’s first major competition was the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens. He came third overall in the T44 100 m event, which included single amputees.

According to www.google.co.za,  he qualified for the final after falling in the preliminary round for the 200 m, but Oscar has a different version of the truth. “I did not fall. There were several false starts and the starter didn’t give us enough time to pause on the set position before starting the race so when he fired, I presumed that he had false started again.”

But there was nothing accidental about the final. Pistorius went on to win it in a world record time of 21.97 seconds, beating single amputee American runners Marion Shirley and Brian Frasuee.

Oscar runs on carbon-fiber and steel blades attached to his knees. They were especially developed  and are called Cheetahs.

Recently, Pistorius finished a 100 m race in a magnificent time of 10.91 seconds.

By the way, Oscar does not perceive himself as disabled. “I don’t see myself as disabled. I just don’t have lower legs.”

In 2007, Pistorius took part in his first international competitions for able-bodied athletes. However, his artificial lower legs, while enabling him to compete, have generated claims that he has an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) amended its competition rules to ban 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”. The federation claimed that the amendment was not specifically aimed at Pistorius. After monitoring his track performances and carrying out tests, scientists took the view that Pistorius enjoyed considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs. On the strength of these findings, on 14 January 2008 the IAAF ruled him ineligible for competitions conducted under its rules, including the 2008 Summer Olympics. This decision was reversed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on 16 May 2008, the Court ruling overall there was no evidence that Pistorius had any net advantage over able-bodied athletes.

Pistorius is annoyed about allegations that his so-called bionic legs give him an edge over other runners. “I train as hard if not harder than many athletes. I diet, sleep and base my life around athletics and it is a shame as too when either spectators or critics try and base my success on my apparent bionic body or my prosthetic feet.”

The 25-year old athlete is extremely popular internationally. In March 2007, journalists of a German magazine, Der Spiegel, spent two days in South Africa to do an extensive article on Pistorius. There are plans to write a biography on him.

But he keeps his feet firmly on the ground, and he knows who the source of his strength is.

“God is the most important person in the world to me. If I’m on the right patch spiritually, it helps with everything else.”

He grew up in a Christian home, and accepted Christ as His savior “more or less before I could remember.”

Asked why he needs Christ in his life, he says: “Because He is the reason for my success and the one that takes me from strength to strength.

“Christ makes all the difference. He aids me in my struggles and makes my glories that much greater.”

To other athletes, Pistorius has this advice: “Believe in yourself. In the final seconds before a race, I tell myself: I wouldn’t be here unless I qualified, and I know I can do this.”



Nico Bougas is the International Development Director for Hellenic Ministries.He has a master's degree in communications from Wheaton Graduate School and M. Div and D. Min degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is the author of five books. He previously worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa and was Editor of In Magazine and Christian Living TODAY and currently serves as Consulting Editor for JOY Magazine and is an Associate of Sports Outreach Africa. For further, information contact: nico@bougas.info 

 


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