Sunday, May 18, 2008

No Limits!


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.


The Gillespie Tribe said...

I am so excited to hear that the ruling was overturned! I was shocked and dismayed when I first heard that he was not going to be allowed to compete.

Good for him! I can't wait to see more of his athleticism and I am sure we will be cheering him on in the Olympics!


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Well, he hasn't qualified for the South African team, yet. But he's allowed to try.

Anonymous said...

I'm tired just looking at this guy run!


Anonymous said...

What a great post guys! The military encourages disabled athletes and integrates training into rehab for wounded soldiers. There was a story in Stars and Stripes recently about a soldier who was blinded, among other injuries, who is currently competing in marathons.


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