As I drove to work this morning, one of the main stories concerned the defeat of Oscar Pistorius in his 200m final at the Paralympics last night.
The fact that he didn’t claim gold was a surprise, but it was the South African’s reaction to the result that has made headline news. In the aftermath of the race, Pistorius claimed that the prosthetic blades used by his rival Alan Oliveira gave him an advantage insofar as they were too long for the Brazilian’s body shape and afforded him an extended stride, which duly allowed him to run faster...
The blades are supposedly checked prior to racing, so that would appear to be that... but there is an interesting point to make here. The Paralympic and Olympic governing bodies have different guidelines... seemingly the Olympic rules are more stringent regarding blade length vs physique and in battling (albeit admirably) to be allowed to run in the able-bodied Games, Pistorius has had to abide with one set of rules, whereas Oliveira simply complied with those that were relevant to his own situation.
To the outsider, Pistorius would appear to want his cake and eat it (not an ideal diet for an athlete...) and his post-race reaction essentially comes across as churlish. My view is that there are certain sporting events which require equipment as well as the prowess of the athlete and if your support team can provide better technology (within the rules) and you have the ability and determination to achieve an improved performance, then where’s the problem?
Let’s face it, if Steve Redgrave had taken to the water in a pedalo and Chris Hoy had graced the velodrome on a Raleigh Chopper, chances are they would have won precisely no gold medals and saved the Queen from conferring a couple of knighthoods...
Oscar Pistorius is a superb athlete and, in many ways, a remarkable man, but last night should have belonged to Alan Oliveira and maybe one day Pistorius will reflect and realise that he said the wrong thing at the wrong time...
All my own work... almost.