July 19, 2011 - Lignano, Italy
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius, a.k.a. Blade Runner, has qualified for the 2011 World Championships in Athletics and the 2012 Olympic Games in London after winning the 400 meters at the Lignano track and field meeting in 45.07 seconds (video interview and results of Pistorius' qualifying run can be found here). The "A" qualifying time Oscar Pistorius needed to run was 45.25. Now he will need to be selected by South Africa to represent the country at the Championships. Oscar's fastest time before tonight's race in Lignano was 45.61 from earlier this year in March. The time was an Olympic "B" standard qualifying time, a provisional mark for the Olympics and World Championships. Pistorius's last race which was in Padova, Italy was only clocked at 46.65. The 2011 season also marks the first time in his career that Pistorius has broken 46 seconds for 400 meters.
Race Video of Oscar Pistorius running 45.07 to qualify for the World Championships & Olympic Games. Race in Lignano, Italy on July 19, 2011. Watch more video of Lignano 2011 Athletics Meeting on flotrack.org
In qualifying for the World Championship and Olympic Games Pistorius breaks a huge barrier in amputees competing against able-body athletes. Oscar's time of 45.07 currently is tied for the 15th fastest time in the world with Jamaica's Jermaine Gonzales. Rondell Bartholomew of Grenada currently holds the fastest time in the world at 44.65 seconds. He will be the first athlete in history to compete at the World Championships in Athletics as the event is set to take place in Daegu, South Korea from August 27 to September 4, 2011.
Since 2007 Pistorius has gone through a lot scrutiny over the argument of whether or not his prosthetic legs, known at the Cheetahs, provided him with an unfair advantage. In March of 2007 the IAAF, the governing body International Athletics, banned any athlete using "any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device" (article here). In doing so Pistorius was banned for use of the Cheetahs and afterwards Pistorius was outwardly upset with the IAAF's actions around the matter (his response). The ban was briefly lifted as Pistorius agreed to participate in scientific testing around the Cheetahs to find if there was truly an unfair advantage (article here).
The initial of the research in January of 2008 brought proof the theory that an unfair advantage was given to Pistorius or other athletes using similar technology (NY Times article | IAAF finds). Pistorius soon appealed the ruling and was successful after the ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (CNN article). With the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games around the corner, Oscar Pistorius chased the time standard of 45.55 for the Olympic Games 400 meters but fell short running 46.25 seconds.
Great piece from ESPN about the controversy surrounding Pistorius and the Cheetahs.
Should Oscar Pistorius compete at the 2011 Daegu World Championships in Athletics, he would be the first amputee to compete against able-body athletes at a major international championship. Will we update as information comes in.
Here is a video from the athletics meeting in Lignano from 2010 that shows Oscar Pistorius putting on the Cheetahs and getting ready to compete in the 400 meters. Watch more video of Oscar Pistorius on flotrack.org