Of the names I will remember so far from the London 2012 Olympics, Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic champion is the one I will remember best. Known as the blade runner you can’t help but be inspired by the walls he had to break down to compete with everyone else.
The controversy around his inclusion in able-bodied competition is one that will reverberate for years to come but is an inspiration to everyone who has or is overcoming their own challenges or disabilities. Words are powerful and how we use them in culture reflects our society so I think that an athlete is an athlete is an athlete, legs or no.
That is why I always hate when people use the word disabled in front of athletes, they are athletes who have a disability. A subtle change but one that puts the focus on their work as athletes instead of the disability. I think that having excelled at the Paralympics, he needed to take the next step and race against his able-bodied peers if only to see how far he could go. That is what every athlete wants to, test themselves against the best and I’m glad he has gotten that chance in London.
So when I see Oscar run you can’t help but be inspired by his story, what he has faced and his deft at handling his critics. Oscar made it to the semi-finals of the 400 meters but didn’t get into the finals. He is the first double amputee to compete at this level since he challenged and who his case against International Association of Athletics Federations in 2008. I can’t think of a better story than that and I will be looking at him in the relay as the games go on.
No matter what you think about whether he should be allowed to compete or not, for now he can and that is a challenge to praise, at least it is for me.