“You are not disabled by the disabilities you have. You are able by the abilities you have.” – Oscar Pistorius
The London 2012 Olympics boasts of a wealth of inspiring athletes whose stories of courage and determination continue to inspire.
25 year-old Oscar Pistorius whose record as the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics and the first athlete to compete at both the Paralympics and Olympics games is nothing short of inspiring.
The sprinter from South Africa made his debut at the Olympics this year and his presence at the Olympics was not only an inspiration to thousands of people living with disabilities around the world but also able-bodied people who have been encouraged by him.
He had his lower legs amputated as a baby after he was born without either fibula. According to his website, Pistorius took up running to bounce back from a rugby injury at the advice of his doctor when he was 16. The next year, he competed in his first Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 and won a gold medal in the T44 200-meter race, breaking an existing world record.
His achievements in sports has garnered him worldwide recognition. He was one of the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and is the 2012 Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.
The man who is popularly called “The Blade Runner,” and “The fastest man with no legs” has grown into one of the world’s fastest 400-meter runners.
Last Saturday, he ran on his prosthetic legs Flex-Foot Cheetahs in the first heat of the men’s 400-meter race, qualifying for the semifinal round. However, he did not qualify for the finals after running at the Semi-Finals but he is not out of the games yet. Pistorius is still expected to run the 4×400 relays, which starts on Thursday.
Pistorius had a challenging journey to qualifying for the Olympics. The IAAF, the world governing body for athletics, ruled him ineligible for competition in 2008, but the Court of Arbitration for Sports unanimously overturned that ruling a few months later. He attempted to qualify for the Beijing Games that summer, but came up short in the 400 and was not selected for South Africa’s 4×400-meter relay team. He did, however, win gold medals in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at the Beijing Paralympics, adding to a pair of medals he won in Athens.
Pistorius would compete in the Paralympc games coming up soon after the Olympic games in London.
His goal at the Olympics is to prove that Paralympic athletes are just as inspiring as able-bodied athletes and he has done just that. “At the end of the day, if I can show people that Paralympic athletes are just as inspiring as professional able-bodied athletes that would be great,” he told NBC.
We celebrate his doggedness in the face of obstacles and indeed, we are truly inspired.
Photo Credit: Washington Post | NBC | Getty Images