Life is difficult for most people. Striving and achieving at any level requires talent, focus, commitment and tons of endurance. To succeed at the highest level such as the Olympics is not possible for most of us.
So when you see someone reach that level of excellence it is moving… and 100 times more, when that person has a serious disability…such as no legs.
I can’t even begin to fathom what it would be to be a double amputee. Yet South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is now one of the fastest runners in his country, and a Paralympics medalist. He now has become the first athlete with no legs to compete in the Olympics against healthy athletes representing their country. Oscar was born without fibulas (commonly known as the calf bone,) and both his legs were amputated below the knee before the age of one.
Last week history was made at the Olympic Stadium as the “Blade Runner” ran around the track in the 400 meters in a time of 46.54. Pistorius came second in his qualifying preliminaries in the 400 and although he did not make it through in the next round, he competed on the Olympic stage against world-class athletes.
The journey wasn’t easy. Although a strong Paralympic runner, the world governing body for track and field (IAAF) ruled, stunningly, that prosthetic legs constituted a “competitive advantage.” Now I don’t want to get into the debate on whether the “cheetah-like” blades gave him an unfair advantage or not (I personally do not think so as these types of legs have been around for more than a decade and thousands of athletes are using them) as it is not the point of this post.
All I wish to do is to recognize and admire the incredible determination of one man to follow a dream and pursue a normal existence, when life has been so profoundly stacked against him. His tenacity and persistence is simply awe-inspiring. Oscar, I salute you! You are one of the best examples of the Olympic spirit I have ever seen and an awesome example of an enduring wildebeest.