Oscar Pistorius single-handedly boosted the profile of the Paralympics. But Jordan Jarrett-Bryan says disabled sport is now in a position where it wants his participation, rather than needs it.
Usain Bolt aside, there wasn’t a more recognisable and popular athlete on the planet than Oscar Pistorius, writes Sports Reporter Jordan Jarrett-Bryan.
The sprinter, nicknamed the “Blade Runner” for his blade-like prosthetic legs, is an icon, not only the Paralympics but of sport full stop.
His achievements on the track include six gold medals across three Paralympics, and various world records. But like a small collective of sports stars, including Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, Pistorius took athletics beyond sport.
The growth of interest in the Paralympics has far exceeded that of the Olympics, and that was largely down to the South African, to his demonstrations of world-class athleticism and the mental ability to overcome adversity.
But suggestions that disability sport will be the loser if he goes to prison to for murder are well off the mark.
Pistorius’s achievement in almost single-handedly boosting the profile of the Paralympic Games is unquestionable. But the sport is now in a position where it wants his continued participation, not needs it.
The Paralympics captured the imagination of the nation, as well as the rest of the world, and the desire to see its sports and athletes far exceeds the desire simply to see the double amputee.
Many stars were born out of 2012 Games – not only our own Jonnie Peacock (pictured below), David Weir and Ellie Simmonds (also pictured below), but also many from abroad, including Canadian wheelchair basketball star Patrick Anderson, Australian wheelchair rugby player Riley Batt, and the Brazilian Alan Oliveira – who beat Pistorius and who will undoubtedly be the face of the national team at the Rio Games.
The Paralympics have come a long way, and, yes, without Oscar Pistorius they will have lost a world-class athlete and trailblazer of the track. But we might just gain some new champions and equally inspirational athletes.