Sport

Blade runner apologises for Paralympics outburst

Sapa

Oscar Pistorius has apologised for his outburst after losing his 200m title, but insists there's an issue with prosthetics lengthening stride.

Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira of Brazil is congratulated by Oscar Pistorius of South Africa after winning gold in the Men's 200m T44 Final. (Getty)

Pistorius, the star of the London 2012 Paralympics, was sensationally beaten into the silver medal position by Brazil's Alan Oliveira on Sunday, in a result that stunned the Olympic Stadium.

The 25-year-old then hit out at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), claiming it was not a fair race and he was at a disadvantage caused by artificial leg length, as the regulations allowed athletes to make themselves "unbelievably high".

Pistorius, who had both legs amputated below the knee, runs on carbon fibre blades, as does Oliveira.

"I would never want to detract from another athletes' moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday's race," the South African said in a statement.

"I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.

"That was Alan's moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him.

"I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims."

Emotions running high
After expressing his concerns publically, both before and after the final, about the length of the prosthetic blades used by Oliveira, IPC media director Craig Spence said the matter was now being investigated.

"We've agreed we will meet again with our medical and scientific director Peter van de Vliet for Oscar to share his concerns with the IPC, without the emotions of tonight's race," Spence said.

"That meeting will be set up in due course and we'll discuss what Oscar's got to say and then we'll take it from there." Pistorius, struggling to hide his emotions expressed his gratitude to Spence and said his focus would now be on his other races.

"I would just like to say thanks very much to Craig for taking the time to listen to me," said the subdued Pistorius.

Fraction of a second
"I would also like to congratulate Alan. I shook his hand outside on the track.

"He had a great performance tonight and I wish him all the best. My focus is going to be on my upcoming races now. I wasn't able to defend my title in the 200m, but hopefully I'll be able to do it in the 400m and, maybe with a bit of luck, in the 100m."

"Thank you very much for coming back out here, I appreciate it," he told reporters before being ushered away by Spence.

Pistorius, who had set a T43 world record of 21.30 seconds in the heats on Saturday, clocked 21.52 in the final, to lose his title to Oliveira by a fraction of a second in 21.45.

In third place was Blake Leeper from the US, in 22.46.

"I've never seen a guy come back from eight metres on the 100 metre mark, to overtake me on the finish line," said Pistorius, reeling from shock after conceding his huge lead to finish second.

'I've never lost a 200m race in my life'
Pistorius dismissed suggestions that he had faded on the line thinking the race was already won.

"I never believe you have it in the bag until you cross the line, and I always believe in running over the line which I did.

"I ran a great race tonight – it really was a top race from me." The packed stadium fell silent when only moments earlier spectators had been cheering at the top of their voices when Pistorius came round the bend, and was well ahead on the straight.

It was not to be as Oliveira came out of nowhere to take Pistorius on the finishing line.

Pistorius, who had earlier expressed his outrage at the longer prosthetics being used by both Oliveira and Leeper, said there was nothing he could do as they were permitted by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

"Obviously I am upset, I've never lost a 200m race in my life," he said.

Lengthy strides
"There has never been another Paralympian amputee to run a 21 second race before, never mind a 21.4.

"We've known about [these longer prosthetics] for about a month now, since the US trials, and I've brought it up with the IPC but nothing has been done about it "I believe in the fairness of sport and I believe in running on the right length.

"We've got a formula which is pretty much the same for everyone – from your hip to your condyle and from your condyle to your toes, and the ratio is about 1.6 and I've stuck with it for years."

"This is a really strong race of mine, and as I said in the mixed zone, the sizes of some of the other guys' legs are unbelievably long," Pistorius told Britain's Channel 4.

"Not taking anything away from Alan, he's a great athlete, but the guys who do the measuring in the courtrooms, some of these guys are a lot taller and you can't compete for stride length.

"We're not racing a fair race. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have the regulations, but the regulations allow the athletes to make themselves unbelievably high. We tried to address the issue in the weeks leading up to this, but it fell on deaf ears.

'Ridiculous times'
"The guys are running ridiculous times. Alan is a great athlete, but I run just over 10 metres per second, so I don't know how you can come back from eight metres behind after 100m to win. It's ridiculous."

Oliveira's winning time was still 0.15 seconds slower than the world record set by Pistorius in Saturday's heat.

"The lengths of my blades are alright because I went through all the procedures with the referees," Oliveira said.

"Once I came inside the track, it had all been cleared up and I think Pistorius also knows that.

"I have been using them for a whole month; just the same blades, according to the IPC rules ... I am very happy, I have written my story on the Paralympic wall." – Sapa, Reuters

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