I should probably be talking about Usain Bolt – the fastest man alive, but this space is for the most inspiring man of the Olympics, Oscar Pistorius. He is the South African athlete running without legs.
Pistorius was born in 1986 without the bone connecting the knees to the ankles so at an early age, his parents made the difficult decision to have both his legs amputated. Whilst many people in his situation would have strapped themselves in a wheel chair and begged for alms, Pistorius’s parents urged him to see a world filled with possiblities. What Pistorius lacked in mobility, he made up for in determination. With the help of prosthetics legs and carbon fibre running blades, he played rugby, waterpolo, cricket, tennis and even boxing. By 2004, he was a decorated Paralympian and in 2005 he was poised to compete in able-bodied championships. Nothing could separate Pistorius from regular athletes it seemed. However in 2007, he suffered a setback when the International Association of Atheltics Federations ruled that his carbon fibre running blades gave him an advantage over able-bodied runners.
Never one to run from an obstacle, Pistorius challenged the ruling and under went further scientific tests which proved that he did not have a net advantage over able-bodied athletes. In 2009, Oscar suffered serious head injuries during a game of rugby. The accident was so severe that he had to be airlifted to the hospital. Instead of succumbing to self-pity, Oscar grew even more determined to become an Olympian. Oscar Pistorius simply inspires me. He has leapt over hurdles of discrimination to earn a spot among the elite runners of the 2012 Olympics. My favourite moment of the Olympics was the moment directly after the qualifying race for the 400M. Grenada’s Kirani James crossed the finish line first and Oscar finished last, but he made it a point to search for Pistorius to exchange bibs with this courageous runner.
There will be many gold winners of this event, but the real winner is the one who run with no legs but all heart.