This excellent athlete has no excuse for being Pist off
Oscar Pistorius, the usually smiling South African, has come across as embittered and petty today.
A quick recap. Overnight, the South African “Blade Runner” became the fade runner. Pistorius had won the T44 200m at the last two Paralympics, but was mowed down in the final few metres. He then sharpened a few blades of his own.
The South African, who also competed at the London Olympics, claimed that his conqueror, Brazilian Alan Oliveira had an unfair advantage due to oversized carbon blades which allow a greater stride length.
As anyone who saw Usain Bolt at the London Olympics knows, superior stride length helps make a fast athlete super fast. Despite being slowest out of the blocks, Oliveira made giant strides in the straight as he gradually overhauled his rival.
Pistorius wasn’t happy. He has been jousting with the International Paralympics Committee over the issue of prosthetic limb heights for some time, and it’s pretty clear he has a good case.
There are strict controls over the height of prosthetic limbs, which basically state that the knee height should correspond with the height an athlete’s knees would be if they had legs. Those rules are seemingly being flaunted by the Brazilian and others, in what may or may not be deliberate bad sportsmanship.
But you know what? None of that matters, and here’s why.
The simple fact of the Paralmypics which everyone is far too polite to mention is that you’d need about 7,0000 different classifications in order to line up every single athlete on the proverbial level playing field.
There are six disability categories in the Paralympics, which are then broken up into classifications on a sport by sport basis. These come close to providing truly uniform competitive conditions for athletes. Really close, but not quite close enough.
It simply is not possible to make the Paralympics perfect. In some events, athletes win because their disability is a little less severe, a little less limiting, not because they have bigger hearts and pectoral muscles.
This whole 11 day sporting festival is not about Citius Altius Fortius, but about cheering for people whose lives are unimaginably tough to most of us.
As we are constantly reminded, the triumph of any Paralympian is just to compete, not to wind up on a podium. If that happens, it’s a bonus. Pistorius of all people should know this, and that’s why he should have remained silent today.
The second, blindingly obvious reason why he should have refrained from comment is that he was invited to run at the Olympics a month ago on what at best was a technicality. That the IOC let him run was not a celebration of humanity, but a bid to ward off a potential public relations nightmare.
As the beneficiary of such a magnanimous decision by sports administrators, Pistorius would have done well not to question his Brazilian rival’s IPC-approved prosthesis.
Pistorius has since done the very 2012 thing and apologised profusely on Twitter. Just two hours ago he wrote “Congratulating Alan of Brazil for his 200m win.. The fastest last 80m I have ever seen to take it on the line.”
No whingeing, no hard feelings. Bet he wishes he played it that way first time around.
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