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‘Blade Runner’ earns Daegu ticket

Double amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius qualifies for athletics worlds


With less than 40 days to go until the kickoff of the World Athletics Championships, Daegu is gearing up to make the biennial event a unique competition.

And it is now looking certain to be a special event with double amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius expecting to compete in the men’s 400-meter race.

The South African, who is nicknamed “Blade Runner,” as he runs with carbon fiber running blades, qualified for Daegu Championship on Tuesday after clocking in at 45.07 seconds at the international competition in Lignano, Italy. 
South African runner Oscar Pistorius celebrates after qualifying for the Daegu worlds. (AP-Yonhap News)
South African runner Oscar Pistorius celebrates after qualifying for the Daegu worlds. (AP-Yonhap News)

The 24-year-old Pistorius, whose previous record was 45.61 sec, needed to run 45.25 or faster to qualify for the World Championships which kick off on Aug. 27.

Until recently, the South African had failed to record a time inside the Daegu qualifying mark. It was more dramatic as his achievement came in his last race before the cutoff date for the South African team.

Pistorius, who had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, won four Paralympics gold medals before starting to compete against athletes without disabilities.

The International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport governing body, had earlier banned Pistorious from competing in the world championships, noting that his carbon blades gave him an advantage.

But in 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the IAAF’s ban on Pistorius allowing him to compete using his artificial legs.

The South African noted earlier that that the IAAF is fully behind him after the CAS ruled in his favor.

The local organizing committee also confirmed that there is no restriction preventing the amputee sprinter from competing in Daegu.

“We’re still waiting for South Africa’s final confirmation, but if he meets the qualifying time he will be able to compete in Daegu,” an official from Daegu Organizing committee told the Korea Herald.

Daegu, some 300 kilometers south of Seoul, is preparing to host the 13th IAAF World Championships that run through Sept. 4. The event is considered one of the world’s top three sporting events.

More than 3,500 athletes and officials, including thee-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and women’s pole vault record-holder Yelena Isinbayeva, will be competing at Korea’s first ever World Championships.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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