25 Aug 2011

Blade runner Oscar Pistorius to make history

As Oscar Pistorius prepares to compete against able-bodied athletes in the World Athletics Championships, the blade-runner tells Sports Reporter Keme Nzerem that “the hard work is beginning”.

Oscar Pistorius promised he was going to qualify to compete at the World Athletics Championships.

To run here is in itself an achievement – many world records are of course set here, rather than the Olympics. To make it here at all signifies you are the best of the best.

It is all the more remarkable for Pistorius. South Africa is a significant sporting nation with strong contenders in many events.

Pistorius had to shave half a second off his personal best to make automatic qualification.

He managed this in July. He’s currently ranked the 17th best 400m runner on be planet. Oh, and of course he’s the first amputee to ever compete in athletics’ blue riband event.

Oscar Pistorius (Getty)

There are those who say his prosthetic legs give him an unfair advantage, because once he’s going he needs less energy to keep on, and his inanimate lower limbs can’t accumulate the lactic acid that slow able bodied runners.

And this criticism obviously still stings Pistorius, who had to take his sports governing body to court to allow him to race able-bodied opponents.

He told me today he’s acutely aware he’s taken a coveted spot that another athlete would love to fill. He knows he’s got to deliver.

But don’t expect medals – for the Paralympic champion is well off the leaders pace.

But a berth in the quarter finals he’d be happy with. And the semis – that, he said, might just be pushing the envelope.

He runs in the first round of the men’s 400m on Sunday and the world will be watching.