Greatest Sentimental Tale: Oscar Pistorius Sprints to Olympic Glory

By Jonathan Mathis

The inspiration of this story, of course, is touching in many ways. It’s an Olympic tale, which, in the simplest context, is one of the greatest feel-good stories the Summer Games has ever told, one regarding Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee South African runner. He is an exuberant athlete with artificial legs who became the first athlete with a prosthetic device to enter into the Olympic games and has been known as Blade Runner, the fastest man on no legs and the first to run against able-bodied runners.

He wanted to compete with the best in the world, encouraged to conquer his dream and sprint the fastest in London for a historic run that would always resonate in our minds. He wanted to qualify for the 2012 London Games, where he will contend for the medal and blossom into a star with swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt, appreciated for a zest he has in sprinting and striving against fit, able-bodied athletes on a quest for gold medals. It’s exceptional and groundbreaking, sprinting on carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs, to race against the able-bodied runners.

Because of Pistorius’ Flex-Foot Cheetahs, he has run fluidly against non-handicap athletes and has spawned unfolding controversy for allegedly having an edge with his blades, a disadvantage for normal runners in competition against a man who is unbelievably spry and brisk. The 25-year-old Pistorius trained hard inside the garage of his personal trainer’s home for countless hours over a four-year span to prepare for an event that occurs every four-years, and the grueling and exhausting training worked in his favor, competing in the 400-meter dash and 1,600-meter relay this month. He was born without a fibula in both legs, which were amputated just below his knee when he was 11-months and which left him without the ability to walk on his own two feet, yet he was always independent and refused making excuses by fighting through his adverse 25 years dealing with a disability.

By the time he was only 13 months, he was fitted for prostheses, and he was walking at 17 months. With any luck — now that he’s eligible to meet the toughest task of his running career — he can somehow stun the world and leave everybody from every continent speechless. Through it all, he’s never surrendered hope nor gave up on his dreams and, relatively speaking, he was chosen to run for a reason with the committee realizing that he is, disable or not, human as everyone else competing on the track at the Olympic Games. What Pistorius has achieved, with a disability that has not deferred him of his objective to become an amateur track runner who is widely respected all over the world, is incredible and mind-blowing and we cannot help but to root for him this summer.

No one ever imagined Pistorius to rank among the top 400-meter runners in the world, let alone qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics in 15 days. View it which ever way you like, but Pistorius is well-deserving and we’d be the first to cheer him on as we tend to embolden the gravity of tender stories to increasingly bring attention to the Olympic Games this summer. If he is the surprising twist in the Olympics filled with so much marvel and sentiment, what does this signify about the Summer Games? A man with no legs but heart and dedication can leave us with lifelong memories once all said and done, a man with a disability can inspire special children who have low self-esteem and who are maybe discourage that nothing is possible in life. But it is, and Pistorius says so by making his mark in the upcoming track and field events this summer, representing his native country South Africa and kids with malicious diseases or any other impairments.

This bodes well for a person without biological legs earning a chance to run at this summer’s Olympics, a moment that he can disclose how remarkable he is flying around the track on those blades, pushing and hoping to win Olympic medals. When he was a kid, Pistorius spent a lot of time staying active in sports, whether it was swimming for water polo, tugging in wrestling or roughing up someone in rugby. He tried it all just about, but a commitment to rugby sadly ended when he sustained a knee injury at age 16, compelling him to lie off of the rough and physical nature of a merciless game.

The journey continued a year later when he took part in the Paralympic Games, and then competed against able-bodied runners for a breakthrough and the greater opulence of transcendence, and with all of his achievements, came derision and criticism by disbelievers honestly judging him after he took legal actions when the IAAF (the International Association of Athletics Federations) banned him from able-bodied events six months before the 2008 Beijing Games. They said it was an unfair advantage, but they failed to present enough evidence to prove whether or not it made him faster than the normal runner. Pistorius, meanwhile, was omitted as a rule was appointed to prohibit a device that contains springs or wheels to give the runner an advantage.

So then Pistorius, who felt wronged and as if he was mistreated by inequality and a prejudice group of people, appealed to the Court of Arbitration, and shortly after the ruling was decided he had won the appeal. It’s a real shame we debate whether he should be allowed to run, and no matter what scientists believe about Pistorius’ blades giving him an indisputable edge, he’s dangerously fast. It’s not as if he’s juicing it up with performance-enhancing drugs, or it’s not as if he’s hiring an impostor to replace him in competition, akin to what 30 runners in Chinese marathon were unsuccessful in and were disqualified for after cheating.

He’s not that kind of dude. More than anything, Pistorius just wants to run and finally can sprint against non-disabled bodies, to which it’s certainly not his fault he’s accused of “unfair advantage,” trying to fit in and stand out like the rest of the runners after meeting qualifications. If he runs fast, as Pistorius usual does anytime he’s running — and wins a medal for South Africa — against arguably Jamaica’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, the world-record holder in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, this would defy the most heartfelt and sentimental moment in the Olympics as we would forever remember a double-leg amputee capping a historic victory. And, hey, it’s possible.

Not only has he become a household name for sprinting, but he’s also a charity worker by joining businessman Mike Kendrick, who founded the Mineseeker Foundation, an organization that supplies prosthetic limbs for landmine victims. Having been through much adversity, Pistorius suffered a broken jaw and cheekbone, and two fractured ribs that required 172 stitches to repair his damaged face. He’s fortunate to be alive, and now will give it his best shot in London. After all, he does have a few drawbacks with his Cheetah if he must regain ground from a loss of quickness and the painful blistering and abrasions caused by the blades that frequently punctuates his training routines.

He earned it and very well deserves to be in the able-bodied competition. This may not sit too well with his critics or those who question the blades he use to run, but it’s truly an honor for Pistorius.

And for us, it’s a beautiful story.

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