Robb and I were thrilled to hear that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has reversed the ruling of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and is allowing Oscar Pistorius the opportunity to compete for a slot in the Bejing Summer Olympics.
Oscar Pistorius was born without fibulas and had his legs removed below the knee before his first birthday. Since that time, he has gone on to become a world-class runner. He uses carbon-fiber blades attached to his legs. Since 2004, he has been competing against able-bodied athletes in South Africa.
Initially, it was ruled that these prosthetic legs gave Mister Pistorious a mechanical advantage over "normal" Olympians, but a study by MIT showed that the metabolic effort expended by Mister Pistorius was no different from that expended by other elite runners. Despite the different gear, Mister Pistorius puts forth the same effort as the Olympic runners.
Here are links to articles in the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
According to what we've read, a New Zealand paraplegic archer named Neroli Fairhall competed in the 1984 Olympics from her wheel chair. In 1904, an American gymnast won the gold medal despite having a wooden leg. Given that period's level of technology in the area of prosthetic limbs, we wonder what his field of competition might have been. The rings? Pommel horse? It is hard to imagine.
To my mind, allowing Mister Pistorious the opportunity to compete brings out the best of the Olympic spirit, and hopefully helps the world examine some of our prejudices about what it means to be disabled.