Thursday, July 5, 2012
The Olympics give us a great chance to root for fellow Americans as they represent our country. But, while rooting for Americans is great, sometimes a story comes along that trumps nationalism.
Yesterday, the South African Olympic Committee named sprinter Oscar Pistorius to the 125 athletes on its track and field team. The historic decision makes Pistorius the first amputee track athlete to compete in any Olympic games.
He is also the first athlete to take part in a Paralympic Games and Olympics Games. The South African Olympic Committee cleared the way for Pistorius to run in the 400 meter and 400x4 meter relays.
Pistorius is a double amputee who lost both legs below the knee when he was 11 months old. The 25-year old didn't even like track when he first took up the sport as a teenager to rehabilitate from an injury he suffered from rugby.
While Pistorius is a decorated Paralympic champion, he had to fight to run against able-bodied runners. Some scientists believed that Pistorius' J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics--called the "Cheetah Flex-Foot"--gave him an unfair advantage.
Pistorius took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports to earn a chance to compete. He won his case and the chance to run in the World Championships in Athletics held in Daegu, South Korea.
Running the 400x4 meter relay, Pistorius helped earn South Africa a silver medal. The World Championships was his biggest moment on the track-and-field stage until the 2012 London Olympics.
When he learned he had made it onto the South African team, Pistorius tweeted: "Will be in @London2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games! Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!"
"Today is truly one of the proudest days of my life," he added.
Pistorius will be one of the biggest stories in London. Controversy over safety concerns over his legs when the runners are bunched up may also arise.