At the very end of a groundbreaking dual-Games summer, Oscar Pistorius was victorious at last in an individual sprint in London.
Just before the athletics facilities were dismantled in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday night, the man dubbed the “Blade Runner” tore around the track to easily defend his 400m Paralympic title.
“It was very, very special for me — it was the last event of my season, it was the last event of the London 2012 Games,” he said after winning in a Paralympic record time of 46.68 seconds. “It was my 11th time I was able to come out on the track and I just wanted to end and give the crowd something they would appreciate and take home with them.”
It was a victory of redemption and relief.
The icon of the Paralympic movement captivated the world at the start of last month, when he became the first amputee sprinter to compete alongside able-bodied rivals at the Olympics.
The South African’s appearance — reaching the finals of the 4x400m relay and semi-final in the 400m sprint — succeeded in breaking new ground, but the script had not gone to plan at the Paralympics until the final day of track and field action.
His 100m and 200m titles were lost earlier this week in a blaze of fury as he became embroiled in a public row with the new 200m champion, Alan Oliviera, whom he accused of unfairly using lengthened blades.
After making apologies earlier in the week, Pistorius let his running do the talking, anchoring South Africa to victory in the 4x100m relay on Wednesday and collecting individual gold on Saturday.
“Sometimes there is disappointment, but that’s what we look for in sport,” Pistorius said. “We want it to be competitive and that’s what it’s been about.”
Despite receiving physiotherapy until 2am before the race, Pistorius won his preferred 400m event more than 3 seconds ahead of US sprinters Blake Leeper and David Prince, who completed the podium.
“I found a decent quick rhythm and then with about 180m to go I just thought: ‘You know what, Oscar, leave it all out on the track,’” Pistorius said. “I just turned it on ... and I came out on the home straight and heard this unbelievable roar. There was no way I was switching off now, and I kind of surprised myself with the time.”
It was the final day of full competition for a Paralympics that returned to its roots in London and staged the biggest Games yet.
The genesis of the Paralympics was a doctor’s determination to use sport in the rehabilitation of injured World War II servicemen, and on Saturday the gold medal in wheelchair tennis quad singles went to Israeli war survivor Noam Gershony.
During the 2006 war with Hezbolla, Gershony was left paralyzed in a helicopter crash from which he was the only survivor. He beat David Wagner of the US 6-3, 6-1 to win Israel’s first gold in either the Olympics or Paralympics this summer.
“There was so much pressure to bring home the gold, because I knew I could do it,” he said.
The men’s blind five-a-side soccer title went to Brazil for the third successive games by beating France 2-0.
The International Paralympic Committee handed out two-year doping bans to three powerlifters on Saturday.
Two Russians, Nikolay Marfin and Vadim Rakitin, tested positive for human growth hormone a week before the start of the Paralympics on Aug. 29.
Rakitin competed in the men’s under-90kg class on Tuesday, but Marfin was stopped from taking part in the 100kg-plus class on Thursday.