South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, the famed Blade Runner, has only 12 days left to get the all-important qualification time that would allow him to compete in the world championships later in July.
The 24-year-old runner, who had both lower legs amputated when he was 11 months old, has captured four Paralympic gold medals but since 2008 has been cleared to run in able-bodied races using his artificial legs: springy, lightweight, J-shaped limbs called Cheetahs.
After missing out on the Beijing Olympics by just 0.3 seconds, at stake now is the qualifying time of 45.25 seconds to ensure a slot in the South African squad at the August 27 to September 4 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
“We’ve had our [South African] national trials [in March]. We’ve got until the cut-off date on July 15, but I’ve had extension through to July 19 because I have two more races,” said Pistorius, who ran a best of 45.61 seconds at the trials.
“I’ve already run the B qualification time twice and am the second fastest South African to do so.
“I’ll be looking for 45.25 and if I get that then I’m in,” he said ahead of the Diamond League meet at the Stade de France on Friday.
“Everything with the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] is cleared up so I’m treated just like any other athlete, which I’m happy for.
“With the progress I’m making, and with races like Friday, I believe the A qualification will come, if not by the end of the season then in the next 12 months.”
Hungry for success
Pistorius will compete in the 400m against a field that includes US star Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 Athens Olympic 400m champion.
“I’ve had a wonderful year so far,” said Pistorius. “It’s the first time I’ll be running in Paris. I’m shaky, I’m so excited.
“I opened the season with my personal best of 45.61 seconds, so I was very happy with that.
“It went very well in the New York Diamond League. It was a great race for me. I ran out of lane one, it was raining a bit, but I still managed to run a good 45-second race.
“This time out, I’m aiming to run a low 45-second race, that qualification time. If I make it this year, I’ll be extremely happy. If not, I’ve still got a year to qualify for London.
“I feel in good shape, I’ve had good training and I’m hungry. It’ll be a great race.”
Pistorius said that the IAAF, the world athletics’ governing body, was now fully behind him after the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in his favour.
‘I’m no threat’
The South African had been banned by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), which said Pistorius’s limbs gave him an unfair advantage.
“In 2007/8 we had that battle with the [International Amateur Athletics Federation], we represented it to CAS in 2008, and we ended up proving that the prosthetic leg doesn’t provide an advantage,” said Pistorius.
“Since then our relationship with the [amateur athletics federation] has been very, very good.
“In a way, I’m very happy to have done the test … because it’s been proven that they offer no advantage. We’ve got no problems with anyone now.”
Pistorius said he was unfazed by running against the likes of Wariner.
“I’ve raced against Jeremy a couple of times. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jeremy, who’s been at the top of our sport for quite some time,” he said.
“I’m not a threat against him. It’s an honour to run against him and a field as strong as is lined up on Friday, it helps me improve my times.” — AFP