South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, the famed Blade Runner who dreams of qualifying for next year’s London Olympics, brings his quest to Saturday’s Diamond League meet in New York.
The 24-year-old runner who captured four Paralympic gold medals is set to compete in the 400m against a field that includes United States star Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 Athens Olympic 400m champion.
Pistorius, who had both lower legs amputated when he was 11 months old, ran a personal best of 45.61 seconds last March in the 400 but must run a 45.25 seconds by June 20 to qualify for the World Championships at South Korea in September.
“I’ve had a time now that I started my season off with, which is quite respectable, but it’s not as quick as those run [by top entrants] and I’ve only done it once, so I still have to prove myself,” Pistorius said.
The prosthetics-power Pistorius sees reaching the worlds as crucial to his quest for London, given the likely similar qualifying standards and similar experiences on offer in both meets.
“I think that’s pretty important and quite vital,” said Pistorius, who was 0.3 seconds off the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifying mark.
“I missed the Beijing Olympics by a small margin and I don’t want that to happen again.”
Tyson Gay, who beat Usain Bolt in their only 100m showdown last year, will be favoured in the men’s 100, with Prefontaine Classic winner Steve Mullings of Jamaica likely the American’s toughest rival.
“My conditioning was just better than him at that time,” Gay said of his victory over Bolt, noting that he still faces a challenge of overtaking the Jamaican world-record holder in the hearts of US athletics fans.
“Americans don’t always like second best. They like guys like Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis,” Gay said. “But if I’m 100% and still run second, I accept that.”
The New York meet also features three-time 200m world champion Allyson Felix, two-time 400m hurdles world champion Kerron Clement and reigning 800m world champion and 2004 Olympic runner-up Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa.
Bershawn Jackson, Javier Culson and South African LJ van Zyl will test Clement in the hurdles.
Reigning world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu of Britain will be tested by reigning world indoor champion Teddy Tamgho of France and Sweden’s Christian Olsson.
Also entered is French pole vault star Renaud Lavillenie and Croatian high jump star Blanka Vlasic. — AFP