‘Blade Runner’ Makes Olympics History With Carbon-Fiber Legs
Oscar Pistorius, a member of South Africa’s national track and field team, will make Olympics history as the first athlete to compete with a prosthetic limb. The sprinter will compete in the 400-meter race Saturday, using two high-performance carbon fiber artificial legs.
Many people have questioned whether Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” because of his sleek prosthetics, has an unfair advantage over athletes competing with biological limbs.
“It’s not that I don’t want to run Paralympic or disabled races, or races for those athletes who are handicapped, or amputees,” he told NPR. “But this is just a challenge for me, and any good sportsman that wants to be better has to face up to challenges that aren’t always as easy as some of the others.”
Pistorius was barred from play during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing by the International Track Federation. He challenged the decision at the Court of Arbitration of Sport, which ruled that he had no advantage and could compete if he had qualifying race times.
The court’s decision was based on research from the University of Colorado, which measured Pistorius’s oxygen consumption in comparison to other athletes. The Blade Runner uses the same metabolic energy as his elite athlete peers.
Pistorius notes that he’s one of tens of thousands of people using prosthetic legs, yet he’s the only one in the world who can run 400 meters in under 50 seconds.
The South African sprinter’s prosthetics were created by Össur, called Cheetah, which are custom-built from high performance carbon fiber specifically for athletes. The company says they are optimal for both transtibial (through the shin) and transfemoral (through the thigh) amputees.
Runners April Holmes and Marlon Shirley, two Paralympic athletes, also wear Cheetahs.
What do you think: Should athletes be allowed to compete using prosthetic limbs? Does Pistorius have an unfair advantage?
Image courtesy of Flickr, RunMX.com