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By Katelyn Holm
In London, the “Blade Runner” crouches on the starting blocks, waiting for the gunshot signaling the start of his race.
Like the other Olympic athletes, he pictures himself on the medal stand, his South African anthem playing over the speakers. Unlike his competitors, he runs with no legs.
Oscar Pistorius, the Blade Runner from native South Africa, had both legs amputated after being born without fibulas.
Even as a child, his attitude toward life remained positive and determined.
Being denied entrance into the Beijing summer Olympics, this same attitude fueled his determination to compete four years later in London.
He won several medals at the Paralympics, but Pistorius wanted to run with able-bodied athletes in 2012.
“It’s not that I don’t want to run Paralympic or disabled races, or races for those athletes who are handicapped or amputees, but this is just a challenge for me,” he said on a National Public Radio program.
“Any good sportsman that wants to be better has to face up to challenges that aren’t always as easy as some of the others.”
Surely, such a feat would earn nothing but admiration from spectators and opponents.
But in the case of Pistorius, his greatest achievement became one of the most widely argued topics in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
His carbon-fiber legs hardly resemble his opponents’ biological ones. The prosthetics he runs with resemble knife blades rather than human feet.
Using composite carbon fibers, the durability and curved shape of the blades mimic the muscles required to sprint at Olympic speeds. These special instruments generated questions about whether or not Pistorius should be allowed entrance into the Olympics.
Critics claimed that the blades he runs on possess inhuman capabilities, giving him an advantage over other Olympians.
Furthermore, they argued that like steroids, the prosthetics are “performance enhancers.”
But can man made ever surpass that of biology?
Artificial Christmas trees may be scented, adorned and treated like live ones but cannot be given life. Pistorius cannot revive the life of his legs with blades, prosthetics or carbon fibers.
Man cannot make something more natural or capable than the human body.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport finally ruled in favor of Pistorius, deciding that he has no real advantage over his competitors.
While he works different muscles, he exerts the same amount of energy and requires the same amount of stamina as the opponents with legs that he runs against.
Pistorius defied the odds, not only soaring through the Olympic qualifiers for the individual 400 meter race and 4x400m relay, but surviving his heats to make it into the semi-finals.
As if that weren’t enough, he made history as the first amputee to compete in both the Paralympics and Olympics in the same year. Though he crossed the line last, his point was made.
Champions don’t need lifetimes of training, perfect conditions or even legs. Pistorius proved this summer that champions are made of just one thing: heart.
In an interview previewing the London Olympics, Pistorius reminisced about his childhood, and the fact that he never looked at himself as disabled or incapable.
“My mother used to tell me and my brother in the mornings, ‘Carl, put on your shoes. Oscar, put on your prosthetic legs.’ So I grew up not really thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes.”