HandiCAPable

Blade Runner.

Fastest man on no legs.
Oscar Pistorius.

On May 16th 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the Oscar Pistorius, the 21-year-old South African paralympic is eligible to race against able-bodied athletes, overturning a ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations in January this year. The initial ban was on the grounds that Pistorius has an unfair advantage because prosthetic legs avoid any lactic acid buildup during the race, thereby making him less tired than other able bodied runners. However, Pistorius has been fighting against this, at the cost of his training just so he can compete at the same level as other able bodied racers.
Earlier in 2007, The British Telegraph ran this article “Pistorius is no novelty sprinter” highlighting the difficulties he is facing with trying to compete with artificial limbs. He has been doggedly pursuing for permission to race in the 400 m in the Beijing Olympics, where his timing for one lap is a really impressive 46.34 seconds against the world record (Michael Johnson’s 8-year old world record of 43.18 seconds). Awesome what the fiber blades can achieve. Also in this race is

Pistorius has been the subject of criticism because of claims that his artificial limbs, which are J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics called the “Cheetah Flex-Foot” manufactured by Icelandic company Össur, give him an advantage over able-bodied runners. It has been claimed that the “blades” he uses are longer than is necessary, allowing him to cover more ground in each stride. Furthermore, it is said that the Cheetahs return more energy per stride without ever becoming fatigued or requiring the same “investment of energy” and that they are not subject to metabolite or lactic acid build-up that slows down ordinary athletes. Pistorius and his coach, Ampie Louw, reject these allegations, saying that his prosthetics do not give him an unfair advantage. They have brought up disadvantages that Pistorius faces, such as rain (which leaves traction hard to attain), wind (which blows the devices sideways), and the fact that he needs more energy to start running than others. Additionally, Professor Robert Gailey of the University of Miami claimed that they return only about 80% of the energy absorbed in each stride, while a natural leg returns up to 240%, providing much more spring. Pistorius has said: “If they [the IAAF] ever found evidence that I was gaining an advantage, then I would stop running because I would not want to compete at a top level if I knew I had an unfair advantage.”

Personally I have no idea whether he has an added advantage or not. But I do think that he should be allowed to race, and no further restrictions should be imposed upon him. A big step for the physically challenged.

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Filed under Current affairs, Noticed

Comments

4 Responses to “HandiCAPable”
  1. Kokonad says:

    Thanks Ankur! 🙂

  2. Abhijeet says:

    Excellent!!!

  3. Kokonad says:

    Thanks Abhijeet! 🙂

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