Blade Runner without a leg to stand on
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Oscar Pistorius, the poster boy for disabled athletes, has really put his foot in it this time. So to speak. After finishing second to a Brazilian, Alan Oliveira, Pistorius almost immediately lashed out (minutes after the race) at Oliveira and his blades.
“We’re not running in a fair race here,” said Pistorius. “I’m not taking anything away from Alan’s performance, but I can’t compete with Alan’s stride. Absolutely ridiculous.” Pistorius’ main gripe seems to be the length of Oliveira’s blades and the stride length advantage they give him, so let’s take a look at that, shall we? Under IPC regulations, Oliveira’s racing height can be a maximum of 1.85 meters; for the race, Oliveira was measured at 1.81 meters. Well within the rules. In comparison, Pistorius is allowed to be up to 1.93 meters, but he chose to race at 1.84 meters. No controversy so far, just a hot-headed former top-dog with sour grapes.
The stride length issue turns out to be irrelevant as well. During the race, Pistorius took 92 steps while Oliveira took 98. 98. Now, while my math skills have significantly deteriorated since high school, I believe I am correct when I figure that 98 is more than 92, and, therefore, means Oliveira’s stride is, in fact, shorter than Pistorius’.
But further talk needn’t be wasted on the baseless accusations of a defeated champion. The real talking point here is the delicious irony of Oscar Pistorius, the man who fought tooth, claw, and nail for years to get into the Olympics on the grounds that his blades gave him no advantage whatsoever, complaining about an unfair advantage gained by another athlete through his prostheses. Pistorius has backed himself into a corner with his comments, and has certainly created an uncomfortable situation for himself. I don’t have enough space to write the endless sarcastic questions I would like to ask Pistorius, but I’m sure you have more than a few yourself.
As if it couldn’t get any worse for “the Blade Runner,” the timing of his comments left much to be desired. Criticizing the gold medal winner right after his crowning glory? This isn’t just a (non) issue of blades, but a disgusting display of poor sportsmanship. Pistorius has reminded us that, though Paralympic athletes have been through a great deal of hardship, they are still people. The fact that they’ve all struggled hard to get to the level they are at, doesn’t mean they can’t be just as egotistical and thoughtless as other athletes. Nowhere does it say that living with a disability automatically places a halo over your head, and Pistorius has shown the world just that with his outburst.
Pistorius has apologized for the timing of his comments, but stands by his guns that Oliveira’s (and others) blades are too long. Just like a true athlete would.