From the Bullpen: Someone to look up to

The Olympics have come and gone. Everyone heard about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, the USA women’s gymnastic team and basketball teams winning gold as well as the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt. However, another runner’s story got my attention this year.

He fascinated me and made me want to learn more. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like this story was not told enough. This man, is in my opinion, one of the greatest stories of faith, hope, strength and courage. I am in awe of him. When I watched him compete, I got goose bumps.

The man I am talking about is Oscar Pistorius from Pretoria, South Africa. He competed in the 400m and the 4x400m race at the London Olympics, and he did so without legs.

The crazy thing to me is that he almost didn’t get to compete with the able-bodied athletes because they thought he had an unfair advantage because of his running blades. Crazy!

Here is a little bit of history on the runner. I found this information on his website.

Pistorius was born Nov. 22, 1986, without the fibula in both of his legs. As a result, the doctors amputated both his legs from the knee down.

Pistorius grew up in an athletic family, so naturally he played many different sports. Rugby became his primary focus in high school. He shattered his knee in a rugby match and took up track for rehab. He found success in the sport and continued to compete even after returning to rugby.

He continued to excell in track and gained the right to compete in the Paralympics for South Africa. In 2004 he won the gold in the 200m and bronze in the 100m.

After the Paralympics he wanted to compete against able-bodied runners. He finished sixth in the 400m at the South African Championships.

The Internatinal Association of Athletics Federations Golden Gala event at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on July 13, 2007, was the first time he competed internationally against able-bodied athletes. He finished second in the 400m “B” race with a time of 46.90 seconds.

Because of his success people started believing that because the lower portion of his body is lighter than normal, he had an unfair advantage. It was also thought that his running blades made him run faster.

In November 2007, Oscar was invited to take part in a series of scientific tests at the Cologne Sports University, after which the findings stated Pistorius was able to run as fast as the able-bodied runners without exerting as much energy. The study claimed his prosthetic gave him an unfair advantage. Because of these findings, he was banned from all able-bodied competitions by the IAAF.

Pistorius challenged the report and took part in more tests to prove the earlier study wrong. These tests found that Pistorius was not bionic and his legs did not make the movements for him. After a hearing, his appeal upheld on May 16, 2008 and the IAAF council decision was revoked.

He ran in different races in 2011 and posted three times under 46 seconds. On July 19 he recorded a personal best and an Olympic Games “A” standard qualification mark.

He qualified for the 2012 Olympics in the individual 400m and also earned a spot on the 4×400 relay.

He qualified for the semifinals with a time of 45.44 seconds. In the semifinal he had a slower time and ended up finishing eighth out of eight. Grenada athlete Kirani James, who went on to win the gold, approached Pistorius and asked to swap bibs. That, for me, was one of the most memorable moments in this Olympics.

“The whole experience was mind-blowing,” Pistorius said on his website. “My aim was to make the semifinal. It’s a dream come true. Kirani is a phenomenal athlete and it was a privilege to swap bibs with him, it’s what the Olympics spirit is all about.”

He ran the anchor leg in the 4×400 and finished last in the Olympic final.

I found this quote on his website and it just shows how athletes are supposed to be.

“It’s taught me a lot. I’ve been inspired by so many athletes. Just to have had that opportunity to step outside, I’m sure in a week I’m going to have the same emotions that I’m going to have in 40 or 50 years’ time,” he said.

He inspires me. I want to be better and try harder because of him. He did not let the fact that he did not have legs from the knee down have a negative impact on his life. Things could have turned out very different for him if he didn’t have such a great attitude and outlook on life.

He is a hero, not because he broke barriers and competed with able-bodied athletes, but because he is a symbol of faith and believing in yourself. He knew he could compete against those athletes, and he did. He made it to an Olympic semifinal. This is hard for anybody to accomplish.

You look at Penn State and all of the students crying because they lost a bunch of wins or all these different professional affiliations going on strike because millions of dollars is not enough for them. Then you see what Oscar Pistorius has accomplished.

This is what sports are about. Loving a sport with all your heart and believing that you can do anything. I love being a sports reporter because I get to hear about athletes inspiring stories and tell an audience about them. What could be better?

1 Comment on "From the Bullpen: Someone to look up to"

  1. Great well written column, looking forward to you're next story.

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