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An Amputee Sprinter: Is He Disabled or Too-Abled? (The "fastest man on no legs") [View All]

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 11:32 AM
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An Amputee Sprinter: Is He Disabled or Too-Abled? (The "fastest man on no legs")
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Edited on Thu May-17-07 11:33 AM by BurtWorm
Interesting controversy brewing in the world of Olympic track and field:



http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/15/sports/othersports/15...

May 15, 2007

By JER LONGMAN



MANCHESTER, England, May 14 As Oscar Pistorius of South Africa crouched in the starting blocks for the 200 meters on Sunday, the small crowd turned its attention to the sprinter who calls himself the fastest man on no legs.

Pistorius wants to be the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics. But despite his ascendance, he is facing resistance from track and fields world governing body, which is seeking to bar him on the grounds that the technology of his prosthetics may give him an unfair advantage over sprinters using their natural legs.

His first strides were choppy Sunday, a necessary accommodation to sprinting on a pair of j-shaped blades made of carbon fiber and known as Cheetahs. Pistorius was born without the fibula in his lower legs and with other defects in his feet. He had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. At 20, his coach says, he is like a five-speed engine with no second gear.

Yet Pistorius is also a searing talent who has begun erasing the lines between abled and disabled, raising philosophical questions: What should an athlete look like? Where should limits be placed on technology to balance fair play with the right to compete? Would the nature of sport be altered if athletes using artificial limbs could run faster or jump higher than the best athletes using their natural limbs?

Once at full speed Sunday, Pistorius handily won the 100 and 200 meters here at the Paralympic World Cup, an international competition for disabled athletes. A cold, rainy afternoon tempered his performances, but his victories came decisively and kept him aimed toward his goal of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, even though international track officials seek to block his entrance.

Since March, Pistorius has delivered startling record performances for disabled athletes at 100 meters (10.91 seconds), 200 meters (21.58 seconds) and 400 meters (46.34 seconds). Those times do not meet Olympic qualifying standards for men, but the Beijing Games are still 15 months away. Already, Pistorius is fast enough that his marks would have won gold medals in equivalent womens races at the 2004 Athens Olympics....
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