Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter known as ‘Blade Runner’ is set to become the first amputee to compete at the athletics World Championships. 24 year old Pistorius is a double amputee who runs on carbon fibre legs and will race in the 400m and the 4x400m at the event in Daegu, South Korea which starts 27 August.
Caster Semenya, the Women’s 800 metre world champion is also in South Africa’s squad for the games after being cleared to compete after facing a lay off of almost a year awaiting the results of gender tests.
Pistorius said, “I have dreamt for such a long time of competing in a major championships and this is a very proud moment in my life. It will be a great day for me when I set out on the track in Daegu and I hope to do my country proud.
“This will be the highest-profile and most prestigious able-bodied event which I have ever competed in, and I will face the highest-calibre of athletes from across the planet.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport had overturned a previous ruling by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) banning him from competing against able bodied athletes because his ‘blades’ gave him an unfair advantage.
Pistorius said he would be happy to make it through the heats at the World Championships. He said, “If I manage to make it through the heats, I would be thrilled. A good performance for me would be to be consistent through the heats. If I ran anywhere close to my PB, I would be delighted”.
Caster Semenya will return to the competition that made her famous worldwide after winning the 800m at the last World Championships in Berlin two years ago – after which she was stopped from competing amidst much controversy until her gender could be identified to the satisfaction of the IAAF.
Chairman of Athletics South Africa, James Evans said, “We selected all those athletes who fulfilled the qualification criteria. With 11 athletes competing for the first time at this level we are very clearly looking to 2012 and beyond”.