Monday, October 3, 2011

Oscar Pistorius: The bullet in the chamber

(CNN) -- He's "the fastest man on no legs," or -- as his sponsor's high-profile advertising campaign put it -- "the bullet in the chamber."

He is Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner" who is changing the world's perception of what is acceptable on an athletics track.

Born without a fibula bone in each leg, the South African is the first double amputee to run at the world championships, and next year he will be the first to race at the Olympics.

"I think next year's going to be quite a big year, as far as demand on my performances," the 24-year-old told CNN.

"I feel that the condition I'm in and the knowledge I've gained probably will definitely help me in achieving those times in the first half of next season. So I know next year is going to be a big year."

Pistorius qualified for the 400 meters with a time of 45.07 seconds in Italy in July, which is less than two seconds slower than Michael Johnson's 1999 world record and would have given him fifth place in the final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Pistorius on Championship experience Pistorius buoyant after Daegu breakthrough

He did not compete at the main event in China. Despite eventually reversing the decision by athletics' ruling body to ban the carbon-fiber prosthetic blades he uses, the Johannesburg native was unable to meet the qualifying mark.

South Africa's 'Blade Runner' He did, however, run at the Beijing Paralympics that year, becoming the first athlete to win gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had at first decreed, after a series of tests, that the blades gave Pistorius an unfair advantage.

He overturned that at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and maintains that he will be competing on a level playing field in London next year.

"If the legs did provide such an advantage that some of the people are claiming they did, then there would be a lot more amputees using the exact same prosthetic legs I have, running the exact same times I have -- and that's not the case," Pistorius said.

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