Saturday, March 2, 2024

Oscar Pistorius runs into history

London Olympic 2012
Oscar Pistorius runs into history
Oscar Pistorius was late.
The press at the mixed zones was getting antsy. There were some whispers about deadlines. From time to time, murmurs went up around the hundred or so who had packed into the limited space for the chance to grab a single quote from the South African.
Then someone said, “He is late because he is putting his legs on.” Suddenly, the reality of Pistorius’ achievement dawned on everyone. There were no more complaints. Everyone waited and although the rumour turned out to be just that, a rumour, (Pistorius was indulging the broadcast press) the stark reality of what the maverick South African had managed cannot be stressed enough.
The fact that he had just made Olympic history by being the first double-amputee to compete in the Games, is just the tip of the iceberg. Pistorius also finished a respectable second and qualified for the semifinals of his pet event, the 400-meters.
“My goal here was to qualify for the semifinal, and I am glad I have managed it,” said Pistorius later. The South African clocked a time of 45.44 seconds, which while still being quite far off his personal best, was enough to propel him to his desired semifinal target.
“I started a bit slowly,” said Pistorius.
Indeed he had, as the weight of the watching thousands seemed to put a little bit of pressure on him. “I slipped slightly, but I am not really the best of starters,” said the South African. But with the crowd egging on their favourite Blade Runner, Pistorius regained ground towards the end of the race and managed to streak through into second spot, just behind the 18-year old Dominican Lugelin Santos.
The youngster was later asked about Pistorius.
“Bueno, si, Bueno,” he said. “He is a good man, always talking to everyone,” said Santos, despite the obvious language barrier. Every single athlete who walked through the mixed zone before Pistorius echoed Santos. Pistorius ‘had a big heart’, said one and all were united in the belief that his prosthetic legs gave him no advantage.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said Pistorius. “It is incredibly difficult to separate the occasion from the event,” he admitted. The Olympics after all is the pinnacle of track and field sport and for Pistorius it perhaps provided extra inspiration.
Not that he was short of muses.
“My mother always told me that the loser is not one who competes and finishes last, but one who does not compete at all,” said Pistorius.
Those are certainly words to live by.
The South African is not expected to make the 400-meter final, but his mother’s words will doubtless drive him on to greater achievements, if not now, then in the future.

-With The Daily Star input

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