Ban for Carbon-Fiber Running Blades Overturned and First Blade Runner Competes for South African Olympic Team

All eyes were anxiously on South African runner, Oscar Pistorius, as he trained and competed for a spot on the South African Olympic team for the London 2012 Olympics.

Oscar Postorius was born without fibula in both legs.[1]  At the age of 11, Pistorius became a bilateral below the knee amputee and used carbon fiber blades for running.[2]  Although Pistorius has won three Paralympic medals in the United Kingdom, he had great hopes to becoming a member of the South African Olympic Team.[3]  Pistorius’ first attempt to become a member of the Olympic Team for the Beijing Olympics was faced with great opposition in 2008.  The International Association of Athletes Federation (IAAF) denied Pistorius an opportunity to compete when it concluded that his “blades” provided him with an undue advantage.[4]  Pistorius continued to follow his dream and appealed IAAF’s January 2008 decision.  In May 2008, the ban on carbon-fiber blades was overturned by the Court of Arbitration of Sports.[5]  As a result, Pistorius and other runners will be afforded an opportunity to compete for a position on Olympic Teams around the world.

Even though individuals speculate that Pistorius may not qualify for the London 2012 Olympic team by two tenths of a second,[6] he made history and provided an opportunity for the world to see that individuals of all athletic statures may compete for a position on an Olympic team.

What I learned from Pistorius is that the term “disability” merely demonstrates how individuals do things differently to achieve the same goal.

How has Pistorius story influenced you? Or what do you expect or hope to see in the dynamics of Olympic Teams throughout the world?


[1] Herald Sun, London Bound: Blade Runner Welcome at Olympics – Unless Runs Too Fast, July 6, 2012, at http://www.news.com.au/sport/london-olympics/blade-runner-welcome-at-olympics-unless-runs-too-fast/story-fndpu6dv-1226418370251 [hereinafter “Blade Runner Welcome”].

[2] Blade Runner Welcome, supra.

[3] CNN, ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius Misses Qualifying Mark for London 2012, June 29, 2012, at  http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/29/sport/olympics-pistorius-london-2012/index.html [hereinafter “Pistorius Misses Qualifying Mark”].

[4] Pistorius Misses Qualifying Mark, supra.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

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By crawfordcodringtonlegal

Immigration & Employment Attorney in the Greater Seattle area. Love running 1/2 marathons, volunteering, and public interest work.

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