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Oscar Pistorius      

"Blade Runner"; Double-Amputee Olympic Sprinter

Oscar Pistorius is a double-amputee sprinter from South Africa whose participation in able-bodied events has made him the subject of both praise and criticism.

Oscar Pistorius was born without a fibula in either leg -- the fibula being the smaller of the two bones that run from the knee to the ankle. Both legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, but he grew up in a "sports-mad family" and played water polo, tennis and rugby. He took up running at age 16 while rehabbing a rugby injury, and the next year won a gold medal in the 200 meters at the World Paralympic Games in Athens. Pistorius runs on springy carbon-fiber blades called Flex-Foot Cheetahs, which attach to the stumps of his legs below the knees; they earned him the nickname of the Blade Runner. By 2007, he was competing in both able-bodied and Paralympic events. He swept the 100m, 200m and 400m races at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, but that same year the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that his blades were a competitive advantage and banned him from competing with able-bodied runners in standard IAAF events. After a formal hearing, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Pistorius did not have an advantage and could legally compete in IAAF races with the prosthetics. His fight to overcome his disability made him a hero to many and he picked up sponsorships from Nike, Oakley Sunglasses, and other high-profile firms. In 2012, he was picked to run in the London Olympics in the individual 400 meter event and as part of the South African 4x400 meter team -- the first double leg amputee to compete in an Olympics.

The Paralympic Games in London just a couple of weeks later saw Oscar given the honor of being Flag bearer for his country in the Opening Ceremony and his athletes competition started well with a T43 world record in the 200m. The final of the 200m saw Oscar take the silver medal, his first competitive loss over the distance in nine years. A determined Pistorius came out for the 4x100 meter relay with the South African team and not only took the title but also broke the world record in a time of 41.78 seconds.

In what has widely been viewed as the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games of all time, Oscar competed in his favored 400 meter in the very last event on the track and stormed home to take the Paralympic title in a new Paralympic record of 46.68 seconds. Eleven races on the Olympic track had resulted in two Paralympic gold medals, Paralympic silver, two world records, a Paralympic record, an Olympic individual semi-final and an Olympic final. Oscar deemed his 2012 summer a dream come true.

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