Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oscar Pistorius: ‘The Blade Runner’ Makes for Wonderful Story, So Don’t Ruin It

The folks of the Olympics don’t understand it, probably because Oscar Pistorius is different from everybody else, a double amputee born with no fibulas in his legs. It’s one of the many inspirational stories to ever bring a glow to the summer games, as the South African product ran in the 2012 Olympics on prosthetic legs, with millions inspired and overwhelmed having their sights on the fastest man with no legs.

The problem? Listen to what the naysayers are saying. The oblivious and dubious people are prejudice to the disabled, not kind allowing Pistorius to compete in these games, simply finding a convenient excuse to do whatever it takes to discourage him. But he refused to let the criticism stop him from seizing an opportunity that was finally given to him, and from a very young age, he’s always dreamed of getting into the action at the summer games. Fortunately, he was allowed to run with the world’s best after the International Association of Athletics Federations banned Pistorius from able-bodied events when tests conducted on him at German Sport University showed that his Cheetah blades gave him an advantage. Months later, the court attested that the IAAF had plundered his rights and violated its own rules, and with the concepts of science having a huge influence on their decision, he was unfairly excluded from qualifying for Beijing in 2008.

By now, with only nine days remaining until closing ceremonies, the swirling controversy circling around Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner, is getting old and people are already fatigued by the endless debates. Why oh why must we ruin such a heartwarming story of a determined athlete who is handicap but has the mettle and self-command to work toward his passion and run with the able-bodies? Why oh why must we discriminate, and turn down a man different from other elite runners, yet he really isn’t much different from any one else? A day doesn’t pass without a tired conversation as to whether or not he belongs on the same track with able-bodied sprinters, an overblown and ignorant argument that has peeved our senses, well, some of us rather. What is there to argue?

Pistorius, like it or not, became the first double-amputee to compete in an Olympics. He also, like it or not, ran on the blades, the prosthetic legs people are negatively passing judgment and voicing opinions on without actually knowing if the blades are what gives him energy to dust able-bodies. Though the laboratories evaluated his blades, which delayed Pistorius’ Olympic eligibility, he dropped into the starting block. From the start, he was slow and couldn’t pick up speed but finally burst out of the crowd, and as a result, he finished in 45.44 seconds Saturday morning, one of his best times this season. That would be good enough for advancing into Sunday’s semifinal round of the 400-meter qualifying to hopefully finish in the top eight of the round to qualify for Monday’s final.

When he is running, as you probably notice, Pistorius’ legs make it seem as if he’s soaring and not actually running. It’s like he’s flying to give us his best imitation of Michael J. Fox on a hover board. It’s like he’s living in the year of 2030, or something. The footrace ended, and Pistorius had qualified for the next round, in sight of advancing further and pulling off the unthinkable. Among all things, now that he’s finally here reaching new heights as a runner, Pistorius is just graceful and happy to be belting along at full speed in these Olympics. He has been training diligently for these games for years and it has certainly paid off. He is stepping into the scene in hopes to stun the world, and he has the heart, he has the spirit, disallowing a birth defect to obstruct a sports career.

But to say he’s not allowed and that his blades gives him an advantage is injustice and folly 24 years after he had his legs amputated. It’s not his fault he was born without fibulas, but still turned into one of the world’s fastest runners with no legs, amazingly keeping pace with the able-bodies that makes for a wonderful book on one of the gorgeous heroic tale. There are signs that his prosthetics are an unfair competitive advantage to abled-bodied runners, but we really don’t know, no matter what scientists tells us, no matter what scientists wants us to believe. The same could be said about Pistorius, unfairly mistreated to take action against healthy runners. The effort of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reinstate him, after track and field’s international governing body briefly banned him from able-bodied competition briefly, allowed Pistorius to compete — once two scientists confirmed his blades gave him extra propulsion.

He is, indeed, amazing and inspiring that encourage disabled athletes to take on sports and overcome adversity, opening doors for someone handicap, not as fortunate as those with arms and legs that allows them to perform at the highest level in whatever sport they decide trying. It’s only an insult to keep knocking him, downgrading him and disrespecting him, with the human race diminishing the magnitude of inspiration, encouragement, motivation, drive and dedication he brings to mind, uplifting the confidence of others willing to become stimulated with the challenge of overcoming a disability and not letting it stop a person from reaching his or her ambitions. Used to the doubt, Pistorius takes it as motivation. Used to the negative publicity, Pistorius runs harder every time he’s in for a dogfight.

Even if he doesn’t win, he’s still a winner just for hanging with the able-bodied runners, dauntless and courageous to expose his talent with help from his artificial legs. But while I’m OK with him out there, no different from anybody else who I’m fair to as well, you aren’t fine by him racing and think he should only be sprinting in the Paralympics when he has every damn right to have fun in London on his vicious Cheetah blades. Scientists, and it figures, are trying to study him as if he’s a science experiment, and the research has been vague and false, not sure what to believe. There’s no evidence to prove whether or not Pistorius’ blades offers an advantage, and we can only speculate and theorize, just as scientists can predict and try hard to sound intelligent when deep down they don’t know the truth about these blades themselves. In specifics, the carbon-fiber Cheetah Flex-Feet is what he’s wearing to race, the artificial legs he used for the 2004 Athens Paralympics, where he won gold in the 200 to shatter the world record.

Maybe he’s an unfair advantage. Maybe not. But, no matter what, he’s this year’s delightful story.

Let’s not make this an episode of Sports Science but a story of inspiration.