From sideshow to main attraction – Pistorius eyes Paralympics gold

As he left Olympic Stadium, Oscar Pistorius stopped for a moment and looked back.

The double-amputee runner turned to take in the crowd of 80 000 and reflect on his victory in a four-year fight to compete at the London Games against the world's best able-bodied athletes.

"It's something I will definitely remember for the rest of my life," Pistorius told The Associated Press on Saturday, thinking back to his debut on the biggest track stage in the world. "It's been absolutely phenomenal. In a way, I'm glad the pressure's over."

But there's still more business for the "Blade Runner" in London.

In a few weeks, the South African will be back at the same stadium on his carbon-fiber blades for the Paralympics. He won't be a sideshow. He'll be the main attraction.

Pistorius is the defending champion in the 100, 200 and 400 metres – and he'll be expected to win four gold medals this time. He also will be on South Africa's 4×100 relay team.

If he wins them all, he'll go home with more gold than Usain Bolt.

"I've always wanted to be at the Olympics and Paralympics at the same games," Pistorius said, still glowing after running the anchor leg in the 4×400 final Friday.

That's soon to come. He also has "the challenge," as he calls it, of defending his 100-metre title. It is going to be a big challenge, too, because Pistorius probably faces the biggest threat yet to his dominance of disabled running when he lines up for the marquee race.

Since the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, Pistorius has become a 400 specialist in his attempt to compete at the able-bodied Olympics. He also shed about 12 kilograms to suit the longer distance.


Amputee acheivements

Meanwhile, Paralympic sprinting rivals and single amputees Jerome Singleton of the United States and Jonnie Peacock of Britain have focused solely on the 100 and unseating Pistorius over the short race.

"The 100 is going to be the tough one," Pistorius said. "I've really changed in the last four years. I've dropped a lot of weight to accommodate the efficiency for the 400 meters and the guys have been training hard for that 100. I've got to defend my title there and it's going to be a challenge."

Singleton beat Pistorius at last year's world championships, handing the South African his first defeat in the 100 in seven years. The 19-year-old Peacock broke the world record in the single-amputee class in June at 10.85 seconds. Pistorius' world record for double amputees is 10.91.

A third challenger and another single amputee is South African teammate Arnu Fourie. He also has run impressive times and beat Pistorius over 100 metres back home in March.

It's going to be a challenge, sure, but the 25-year-old Pistorius has gotten used to them over the years.

Bans, court cases, battles to qualify – and, most recently, a crash by a teammate in the 4×400 relay semifinals this week that almost ended Oscar's Olympics early.

"We won't hopefully have those (dramas) in the future," he said, laughing, outside the athletes village. "This has been one of the most special moments of my life and I'm sure the Paralympics later this month is going to be exactly the same for me."

Then, it'll be time to rest and reflect until next season. And think about what else he can achieve.

"Next year we've got the world championships in Moscow," said Pistorius, who already has a silver medal with South Africa in the 4×400 relay from last year's worlds. "Looking forward to that as well." – Sapa-AP.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Gerald Imray
Gerald Imray works from South Africa. Associated Press. [email protected] if you have a story to tell. Follower of Johannesburg's mighty Lions. Gerald Imray has over 2884 followers on Twitter.
Advertising

High Court strikes down ‘paternalistic’ lockdown regulations

The order of unconstitutionality has been suspended for two weeks

L’Oréal workers demand a shutdown of local plant, citing Covid-19...

The French cosmetics company’s Midrand plant has recorded 16 Covid-19 cases in two weeks

Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening
Advertising

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday