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LONDON -- Is manmade material superior to muscle? Are those blades better than real legs?

Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee runner, is taking the issue of disabled vs. able-bodied competition into new territory as he prepares for the London Olympics.

His inclusion on South Africa's team clears the way for him to become the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics. And because it's the sporting world's biggest stage, his participation is likely to fire up the long-running debate over whether his flexible, carbon-fiber blades give him an unfair advantage.

Pistorius, 25, runs on Cheetah Flex-Foot blades, J-shaped limbs that are 16 inches (41 centimeters) long and weigh a little over a pound each.

Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated when he was a baby after he was born without the fibula bones in his shins, has a personal best in the 400 meters of 45.07 seconds - almost two seconds off Michael Johnson's world record - and ran a 45.20 this year, both inside the top Olympic qualifying time.

Never before has a disabled person been such a threat to the able-bodied in a sports event.

"There are tens of thousands of people with the same prosthetics I use, but there's no one running the same times," Pistorius wrote in a column in a British newspaper last week after he was chosen to run both the individual 400 meters and the 4x400 relay in London. "You'll always get people who have their opinions on whether I should be competing in London, but they can't explain my times."

The Blade Runner doesn't just want to show up at the London Games, flash his photogenic smile and wave, and then retire graciously and let the top runners get on with it. Pistorius wants to be on the track among the eight finest runners in the world when the gold medal is decided on Aug. 6.

"It's a personal dream of his to run in the final at the Olympic Games," Pistorius' coach for all his career, Ampie Louw, told The Associated Press. "It's not qualifying only."

Pistorius told the AP: "My goals are just to be able to look back at my career and know that I didn't let my talent go to waste. I'm just trying to prove to myself that I can be the best that I want to be."

Sports engineer David James, a senior lecturer at England's Sheffield Hallam University, disagrees with Pistorius' inclusion in the Olympics on both scientific and ethical grounds.

"Sport is hard-nosed and brutal and bloody and has no place for sob stories. People want Oscar to run and do well. However, will they think the same if he wins?" James said. "I predict a backlash if he wins anything. They will attribute that performance to the blades. I think there would be real implications if he won."

Pistorius' case was settled - legally anyway - in 2008 when sports' highest court lifted the ban from able-bodied events imposed on him by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said that Pistorius probably gets some advantages from the springy, curved blades, but also suffers some disadvantages, and they even out in the end.

James doesn't agree.

"To say he doesn't have an advantage is stretching it," the sports engineer said. "When he's up to speed, he is more efficient than someone with muscle and bone. He can relocate his legs faster because they are lighter."

Hugh Herr, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert in biomechanics and bionics who has conducted studies on Pistorius, agreed with the decision to reinstate Pistorius, saying there is no evidence the blades give Pistorius an edge.

Pistorius' leg speed is quicker than that of some other athletes but not all of them, Herr said, meaning he's "not abnormal." And in terms of the energy he uses and the way he tires, there is, crucially, no difference, Herr said. Pistorius is probably at a disadvantage because he cannot hit the ground as hard as other athletes, the professor said.

Herr said Pistorius was forced to come up with a different running style from a young age because he had no lower legs, and developed bigger hips as a result. Those hips, and to a lesser extent his knee joints, are the key to his running, Herr said.

"The view that he's a robot that doesn't fatigue is nonsense," Herr said. "The science is immature. We don't know very much, but what we do know says there's no overall advantage for Pistorius in a 400-meter race."

Sports ethicist and philosopher Ivo van Hilvoorde of Free University in Amsterdam said the South African represents the shifting boundaries between able and disabled sport.

"We are used to thinking of disabled as less," Van Hilvoorde said, "but it could be the other way round. Oscar Pistorius is a nice example of this."

-Gerald Imray






Rayo..
 

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Since there are both advantages and shortcomings to Pistorius's legs, I'd be willing to let him run if it the decision was up to me. After all, some women have competing on the Men's PGA tour or women in NASCAR, for example. However, if a great number of handicap people start showing a clear advantage over fully legged folk, I believe they should have their own competitions to compete in (similar to men vs. women in general for professional golf, track, etc.)

I have more of an issue with juiced up folks even being considered for things like the "baseball hall of fame though". Even if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were indisputably great players while being juiced up and there's no indication of how good they would have been without the 'roids, they shouldn't EVER be considered against those who didn't juice up.

-g
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfair Advantage for "other" Double Amputee?



LONDON -- A month after his groundbreaking Olympic debut, Oscar Pistorius was reeling from a stunning upset Sunday in the London Paralympics.

The "Blade Runner" had never been beaten over 200 meters until Brazilian sprinter Alan Oliveira came storming down the home straight to win by 0.07 seconds and dethrone the icon of the Paralympics.

Pistorius later accused Oliveira of bending the rules.

Having won his own legal battle to compete wearing carbon-fiber blades alongside able-bodied rivals, Pistorius suggested that Oliveira ran with longer prosthetics than should be allowed.

Oliveira won in 21.45 seconds after overtaking Pistorius at the line at Olympic Stadium in front of a capacity 80,000-strong crowd.

"Not taking away from Alan's performance – he's a great athlete – but these guys are a lot taller and you can't compete (with the) stride length," Pistorius said in a broadcast interview. "You saw how far he came back. We aren't racing a fair race. I gave it my best. The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) have their regulations. The regulations (allow) that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high.

"We've tried to address the issue with them in the weeks up to this and it's just been falling on deaf ears."

For Pistorius, it is "ridiculous" that Oliveira could win after being eight meters adrift at the 100-meter mark.

"He's never run a 21-second race and I don't think he's a 21-second athlete," Pistorius said. "I've never lost a 200-meter race in my career."

Oliveira insisted he had not broken the rules, and expressed disappointment with Pistorius' criticism.

"He is a really great idol, and to listen to that coming from a really great athlete is really difficult," Oliveira said through a translator. "I don't know who he's picking a fight with, it's not with me."

Oliveira was backed by Paralympic leaders.

"There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades, which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete," the IPC said in a statement. "All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition."

IPC officials met with Pistorius after the race.

"He wanted to voice his concerns and we listened to those concerns," said IPC spokesman Craig Spence, one of three people to meet with Pistorius. "The IPC will meet with Oscar at a later date to discuss his concerns once the emotion of tonight is out of the way."

The second half of Pistorius' year in London is not running to script.

At the start of last month, the South African reached the 400 semifinals and the 1,600 relay final. Competing at the Olympics was some achievement alone, though the medals were meant to come at the Paralympics.

He was hoping to go one better than the trio of golds he won in Beijing, but can still leave London with the same haul.

Next up is the 400 relay Wednesday before he tries to defends his titles in the 100 on Thursday and 400 on Saturday.

-Rob Harris






Rayo..
 

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So its fair until someone else can beat me.?
 

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As long as he never comes in higher than second place in the regular Olympics, no one can say much.
 
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