JOHANNESBURG: Oscar Pistorius was selected today to run in both the individual 400 meters and the 4x400 relay at the London Olympics, clearing the way for him to become the first amputee track athlete to compete at any games.
In a surprise last-minute decision, South Africa’s Olympic committee and national track federation said the double amputee can run in his individual event as well as the relay even though he did not meet the qualifying criteria in the 400m. The Olympic committee earlier announced that Pistorius, who runs on carbon fiber blades, had been picked only for the relay.
Olympic committee chief executive Tubby Reddy said that South Africa’s track body asked for permission to allow Pistorius to run the 400m, even though he missed the final qualifying time.
The 25-year-old Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner” will now likely be as big a draw at the Olympics as sprinting sensation Usain Bolt or swimming great Michael Phelps. The multiple Paralympic champion, who had both his legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, will realise a dream to compete at the Olympics and the Paralympics in the same year and will get a chance at his goal, to make 400m final at the games.
Pistorius made history last year by qualifying for the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, where he made the semi-finals of the individual race and won silver with South Africa in the 4x400 as the first amputee competing at the worlds.