Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Pistorius in Paralympics

Paralympics is meant for physically handicapped athletes. Olympics is for normal or able bodied athletes. If an athlete takes part in one he/she should not be allowed in another.

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa had taken part in 2004 and 2008 Paralympics and won gold medal in 200 metres race. In 2012 he wanted to take part in Olympics. IOC officials did not want him in Olympics. Pistorius argued that prosthetics did not offer him advantage over normal athletes and was allowed to take part in Olympics. In one relay event his team did not complete the run because one athlete fell down and did not hand over the baton to Pistorius but the fall was blamed on an athlete of another team and Pistorius’ team was allowed to proceed to the next round.

Having taken part in Olympics, Pistorius should have been barred from Paralympics but was allowed to take part.

On 3/9/2012 Alan Oliveira of Brazil won 200 metres race in 21.45 seconds and gold medal. Pistorius came second in 21.52 seconds. Soon came Pistorius’ outburst.

“Not taking away from Alan’s performance, he’s a great athlete, but these guys are a lot taller and you can’t compete stride length.”

“You saw how far he came back. We aren’t racing a fair race. I gave it my best. The IPC have their regulations. The regulations allow that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high. We’ve tried to address the issue with them in the weeks up to this and it’s just been falling on deaf ears.”

“He’s never run a 21 second race and I don’t think he’s a 21 second athlete. I have never lost a 200 metre race in my career.”

One has not lost before does not mean one cannot lose now or in future.

Pistorius’ complaint was that Oliveira wore longer blades. Oliveira did not break any law. IPC issued a statement. “There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades, which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete. All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition.”

In the race Oliveira had 98 strides, Pistorius 92. Pistorius had longer strides. In the heats, Pistorius had completed the race in 21.30 seconds, a world record, and faster than Oliveira’s time in the final. Pistorius could have used longer blades in Paralympics. If that had made him run faster than in Olympics it would have proved technology makes a difference.

Pistorius later said “I do believe there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.”

There is an issue here but it is not about length of blades but an athlete taking part in both Olympics and Paralympics.

Updated: September 8, 2012 — 1:56 pm

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