Wed, Aug 10, 2011 - Page 19 News List

‘Blade Runner’ to compete at world champs in Daegu

Reuters, JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius competes in the men’s 400m at the IAAF Golden Gala in Rome on July 11, 2008.

Photo: AFP

South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius has been selected to run in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the world athletics championships in Daegu, South Korea, this month.

In a statement on Monday, Athletics South Africa said Pistorius, who runs on carbon fiber attachments, had been named to compete in both events.

Pistorius, 24, who has been dubbed the “Blade Runner,” met the qualifying requirements when he clocked 45.07 seconds at a meeting in Lignano, Italy, last month.

“I have dreamed for such a long time of competing in a major championships and this is a very proud moment in my life,” Pistorius said in a statement. “It is an honor to be representing my country at such a prestigious event and I hope to do my best at the competition for South Africa.”

Pistorius first competed against able-bodied athletes in 2007, but the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) then amended its 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.”

In the following year, the world governing body said scientific research had shown Pistorius enjoyed an advantage over able-bodied athletes and banned him from competitions held under their rules.

However, the decision was over-ruled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, making Pistorius eligible for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, although he was unable to qualify for the South African team, winning gold medals instead in the Paralympic 100m, 200m and 400m.

The decision to include Pistorius in the relay squad is likely to create further controversy because of the possibility of an accidental clash with competitors during the baton changeover, which is often chaotic and leads to clashes and falls.

IAAF spokeperson Nick Davies said safety issues were a matter for the organization’s technical delegates, but added that it would make sense for Pistorius to run the first leg which is staged in lanes.

“It would be sensible to run the first leg because then you would stay in the lane, but it will be for the technical delegates to decide, they have full power,” Davies said. “A decision can be made any time before the championships.”

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