Paralympics-Oscar Pistorius runs fastest tournament time for 400m

Sprinter Oscar Pistorius ran his fastest time in a new BT Paralympic World Cup 400m record time at the Manchester Regional Athletics track at Sport City. Fast, but not fast enough for his Olympic and Paralympic dual dream next year.

By Gareth A Davies

Rain on Thursday night was replaced by strong gusts on Friday, making the times wind-assisted, but the 47.28 seconds was a long way off both his personal best, and the time the South African double amputee sprinter needs to qualify for both the able-bodied IAAF World Athletics Championships in Korea this summer, and the Olympics next year.

The triple Paralympic champion over 100m, 200m and 400m, is unbeaten at the BT Paralympic World Cup since it began in 2005.

In the same race, Britons Ian Peacock, a developing athlete and Richard Whitehead, a double amputee and a gold medallist at the IPC World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand in January, finished respectively in 51.86 secs and 57.06 secs.

Yet Pistorius is closing in on the Olympic qualifying time in the 400m. “For any athlete the Olympics is the pinnacle,” he said. “I’ve never distinguished the difference between disabled and able-bodied sport.

“When I grew up my mother always said to us, my brother puts on his shoes in the morning and I put on my prosthetic legs and that’s where it ends.

“To be able to participate in the World Championships this year and hopefully the Olympic Games next year…would be absolutely phenomenal.”

Earlier this year the 24-year-old ran a personal best of 45.61 seconds, which is within the Olympic ‘B’ qualifying time.

The next month will be crucial in the career of the 24 year-old. “I’ve got big races coming up in Manchester, Austria, New York and Portland, Oregon, and hopefully I will get the ‘A’ time [45.25 sec] for the World Champs.

“I’ve already run pretty close to the ‘A’ time, with 45.61 sec [the ‘B’ qualifying time at the Provincial Championships in Pretoria, in March] and in the last two months I’ve been watching my weight, and I’m in great shape.”

“It’s one thing running one fast race to get the B time but I need to be hitting that regularly. At the moment, I’m the second fastest man in South Africa over 400m, and to guarantee myself a spot, I need to be fastest. The SA team will be announced in June.”

If selected by the South African Olympic Association next month, the man who runs with two prosthetic limbs and carbon fibre blades for feet will become the first amputee sprinter to compete at the World Championships, which start on Aug 27. Likewise, for the Olympics next year.

Compatriot Natalie Du Toit, a swimmer and single amputee, and Natalia Partyka, a table tennis player from Poland, born with one arm ending just below her elbow, competed at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing.

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