Oscar Pistorius – Fastest man on no legs

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Oscar Pistorius of South Africa wins Gold with a World Record in the 400m T44 during day 10 of the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games held in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Oscar Pistorius’ reputation as the “fastest man on no legs” is gaining momentum with every race. A double amputee, the South African phenomenon is the world record holder in his category for the 100, 200 and 400 meters sprints. And in September 2008 with the eyes of the world upon him as he raced in Beijing, he became the first Paralympian to win gold in all three events. Remarkably, he took the silver medal over 400 meters in the 2007 South African National Championships competing against able-bodied runners. That achievement gave rise to the exciting possibility of him competing in the Olympic Games for South Africa.

Born without the fibula in both legs, Pistorius was only 11 months old when his parents made the heart-wrenching decision to have his limbs amputated below the knee. He says he never really knew anything different. As a child he announced to his father that one day he would play in the Super 8 rugby event, and this would characterize his future approach to life. He did indeed play rugby, water polo and tennis as a schoolboy. Then in January 2004, Pistorius shattered his right knee on the rugby field. Doctors recommended he switch to track. At age 17, he ran the 100m in an open competition at the Pilditch stadium in his hometown of Pretoria after training for only two months. He ran it in 11.51 seconds; the world record was 12.20.

A mere eight months later, Pistorius raced alongside Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure at the 2004 Paralympics Games in Athens. Creating a sensation in the athletics world, he took the silver medal behind Shirley in the 100m. He also won gold in the 200m, breaking the world record with a time of 21.97 seconds. This made him the first amputee ever to run the 200m in under 22 seconds. He went home with four world records and the determination to do it again.

At the South African Championships in March 2005, Pistorius ran the 400m in the Open/Able-Bodied category and achieved 6th place in the final competition. That same year, he also won the gold in both the 100m and 200m while representing South Africa in the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, England. Subsequently, the IAAF invited him to run in a Grand Prix meeting in Helsinki and at the World Championship in Manchester, making him the first disabled athlete ever invited to such events; a huge honor.

Oscar managed to shave a further 0.3 seconds off his 200m record at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, bringing it to 21.67. Also taking first place in the 100m and 400m events, Oscar secured himself a place in the history books by becoming the first ever Paralympian to win gold in all three events.

As part of the celebrations to mark some outstanding performances in Beijing and an incredible haul of 30 medals for the South African Paralympic team as a whole, Oscar was delighted to meet former President Nelson Mandela.

Being a bilateral amputee, Pistorius has always competed in both T43 (both legs amputated below the knee) and T44 events (one leg amputated below the knee). His 100m, 200m and 400m T43 world records are all faster than the T44 world records. He credits his Össur Flex-Foot Cheetah® running legs – he often refers to them as blades – with enabling him to run at his fastest and accomplish his unique achievements, helping him to move to his next step and past the finish line. He also finds comfortable walking feet and the ability to remain active in Össur Modular IIITM Flex-Foot that he wears off the track.

Pistorius has now broken his own world records 27 times and is still working toward becoming the fastest sprinter in the world. Despite his ambition to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London, he has no plans to stop running at the Paralympics, which formed him into the competitive athlete he is today.

Competitive Highlights:

2008

Paralympics, Beijing
– Gold medal for 100m (11.17 sec)
– Gold medal and Paralympic Record for 200m (21.67 sec)
– Gold medal and World Record for 400m (47.49 sec)
Spitzenleichtathletik Meeting, Lucerne, Switzerland, able-bodied IAAF sanctioned meeting
– 400m (46.25s) Personal Best time

2007

Senior South African National Championships – able-bodied –
– Silver – 400m (46.56s)
– April 4th 2007 Oscar shattered the world record for the 100m sprint, running the  distance in an amazing 10.91 seconds, at the Nedbank Championships for the  Physically Disabled, South Africa.

2006

IPC World Championships Assen
– Gold 100m (11.32s)
– Gold 200m (21.80s) (new world record in semifinal 21.66s)
– Gold 400m (49.42s) (new world record)
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