Disability and sport

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Disability and sport


Can Oscar Pistorius blur the boundaries between able and disabled?


Whatever transpires when he takes to the track Pistorius must hope that this event scotches some of the myths that surround him. He is sick of restating his case, particularly since the night of 19 July when he ran 45.07sec over 400m, making him the 18th fastest man over one lap of track this year. It gave him the "A" qualifying standard for the world championships and meant that, all of a sudden, some people saw him not as "disabled" but "too-abled" because of the blades he wears.

As Roger Black has said: "The faster he runs, the more people are going to say that he has an advantage and we are not on a level playing field." It is worth stepping back and reconsidering the role technology plays in enabling athletes. Since Mo Farah began training with Alberto Salazar at the start of this year, he has had access to, among other things, an anti-gravity treadmill, an underwater treadmill and a cryosauna. Farah is in the best form of his life. Try telling Farah's rivals from, for instance, Eritrea and Uganda, that they are on "a level playing field" when they toe the start-line.

Pistorius is not the first athlete to face these issues. Aimee Mullins, a double-amputee below the knee, was competing as a sprinter at national college level in the USA as long ago as 1995. She wore an early version of the Cheetah flex-foot which Pistorius uses today. In 2012 she will be the chef de mission for the US Paralympic team. She believes the criticism of Pistorius stems from a deeply ingrained prejudice: "If we allow a person, one who we view as our inferior, in whatever way, to play with us, and then that person beats us, what does that say about us?"


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Oscar Pistorius must run first in 4x400m world championship relay

Oscar Pistorius must run the first leg for South Africa if he is to take part in the 4x400m relay at the world championships, the IAAF has confirmed.


"This person is a particular case," the IAAF president, Lamine Diack, said of the athlete who runs with carbon fibre prosthetic blades in place of his lower legs, which were amputated before he was a year old due to a congenital condition.

"The only thing we said to the South African federation is that if he wants to run in the relay, he must run the first leg to avoid danger to other athletes."



He's moved on to the semi-finals:


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Oscar Pistorius dropped from South Africa's 4x400m relay final team

One day after helping South Africa qualify for the 4x400 metre relay final at the world championships, double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius was left out of the starting line-up for Friday's race.


"Haven't Been included in the Final for the SA Mens 4x400m. Pretty Guttered [sic]," Pistorius wrote in a Twitter message. Instead of Pistorius, the South African team decided to go with LJ van Zyl, who won bronze in the 400m hurdles.


After making a historic breakthrough for Paralympic athletes by reaching the semi-finals of the 400m early this week, the 'Blade Runner' ran a strong opening leg on the tough inside lane on Thursday to help South Africa to a third-place finish in its heat and a South African record.


Team manager Magda Botha said in a statement the decision was based on "factual information and knowledge" after a meeting with the athletes early Friday. The 24-year-old Pistorius, who had his legs amputated when he was a baby, can still get a medal if South Africa finishes in the top three because he ran in the heats.


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Olympian Pistorius charged with murder in girlfriend's death

Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius was charged Thursday with the murder of his girlfriend who was shot inside his home in South Africa, a stunning development in the life of a national hero known as the Blade Runner for his high-tech artificial legs.

Reeva Steenkamp, a model who spoke out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women, was shot four times in the predawn hours in the house, in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria, police said.

Hours later after undergoing police questioning, Pistorius left a police station accompanied by officers. He looked down as photographers snapped pictures, the hood on his gray workout jacket pulled up, covering most of his face. His court hearing was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon but has been postponed until Friday to give forensic investigators time to carry out their work, said Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for the prosecution.

South Africans were shocked at the killing. But while Pistorius captured the nation's attention with his Olympic quest, police said there was a recent history of problems involving him. Police spokeswoman Brigadier Denise Beukes said the incidents included "allegations of a domestic nature."

"I'm not going to elaborate on it but there have been incidents (at Pistorius' home)," Beukes said. Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but Beukes said that the 26-year-old Pistorius was at his home at the time of the death of Steenkamp and "there is no other suspect involved."



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What happened that night, according to the prosecution

“There is no possible explanation to support his report that he thought that it was a burglar. Even (in) his own version, he readied himself, walked to the bathroom with the clear intention and plan to kill the ‘burglar’ and did so whilst the burglar was harmless and contained in a toilet. This in itself also constitutes premeditated murder of a ‘defenceless burglar.’

“It is our respectful argument that ‘pre-planning’ or premeditation do not require months of planning — if ... I ready myself and walk a distance with the intention to kill someone, it is premeditated.”