The Double Amputee Sprinter with Carbon Fiber Legs Will Race in the World Championships

Illustration for article titled The Double Amputee Sprinter with Carbon Fiber Legs Will Race in the World Championships

Oscar Pistorius has two carbon fiber blades for legs. Despite that, he can run 400 meters in 45.07 seconds. And South Africa, his home country, is sending him to the World Championships to compete against a field of normal-legged runners.


The 24-year-old Pistorius has been the subject of debate and discussion since he began using his Cheetah Flex-Foot prostheses. Initially, he had been banned from competing in regular competition because German scientists had concluded he had a 30% efficiency advantage over sprinters with actual legs. Although the ruling was overturned shortly before the Beijing Olympics, ESPN says that he failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Championships.


After setting his personal best earlier this year in Rome, he's finally fast enough to run in the World Championships and will be the only 400 meter sprinter representing South Africa. Pistorius says he'll be pleased to make it out of his preliminary heats. [ESPN]

Image via Oscar Pistorius

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I'm sorry, but this guy doesn't belong in the competition. The sport tests the limits of the (ideally) natural human body. Not having legs is obviously a tremendous disadvantage, and while I'm obviously very impressed with Pistorius' ability and sheer will, the technology employed for his legs should immediately disqualify him from competition.

I am certainly empathetic, as the guy has obviously already suffered enough, but you can't change the very nature of a sport because you feel bad for someone. While I realize the irony of PEDs allowing a competitive advantage, they are not intended to be a legal part of the sport.

This reminds me of the transgender (male-to-female) athletes that want to compete against biological women, which I am also against on identical grounds. I have nothing against transgendered people, but the inherent difference in male and female physiology should immediately disqualify cross-gender participation (regardless of cometic surgery or hormone therapy).

I don't, however, have any problem with a woman wishing to participate in a man's sport, unless there is inherent competitive advantage. I think the difference to me is that a woman would be at a (physiological) disadvantage, and only has natural tools/abilities to compensate.

I'm trying to describe this as delicately as possible, without trying to offend. My opinions are not based on any sort of gender value or opinion on sexuality, but rather in the spirit of athletic competition. I don't begrudge anyone disagreeing, I just feel strongly about protecting the integrity of sport.