Oscar performance


In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Samuel L Jackson, the American actor, sent out a tweet, and though he didn’t mention him by name, all of his 1.2 million followers knew that he was talking about Oscar Pistorius.

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South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, right, Belgium's Jonathan Borlee, centre, and Grenada Kirani James, back, react after their men's 400m semi-final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday, August 5, 2012.

“I don’t care who you are, that’s moving! SA runner is a true example of Human Determination! Rock On Dude!”

Pistorius will not rock on in the 400m after he finished last in his semi-final and ran a 46.54 seconds on Sunday night. Still, as he said later, he had achieved what he set out to do and make the semi-finals, which he did in a fine time of 45.44sec in Saturday’s heats.

It will be of little succour to Pistorius that had he managed to run close to his personal best of 45.07sec he would still have finished outside the qualifiers as all of the eight who went to the final did so in under 45 seconds.

Now Pistorius is an Olympian and on Sunday night he had the 80 000 in the Olympic Stadium regard him as such. On Sunday night there were few in the crowd who would have denied him this moment.

Those who continue to question his presence at these Games, pointing at his legs with accusations that he is gaining an advantage, would have had a hard time convincing those who cheered him before, after and during his run.

As Martyn Rooney, the tall British 400m runner and a friend of Pistorius, said last night: “You look at the crowd here and the reception they gave him, well, all those people who said he shouldn’t be here, they can just eff off.” Quite.

Pistorius again took over an hour to conduct media interviews, saying that it had been a “mind-blowing experience”.

“I achieved what I wanted to come here to achieve. The time wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I know I can go quicker. We have the 4x400m relay heats coming up later in the week and the team has been training together in Twickenham before the Olympics.

“We won the silver medal at the world championships last year, so we’re hopeful that we can compete and reach the final. We work well together as a team. A lot of us train together (in Pretoria) and we’re really close.”

What Pistorius will take away from Sunday night’s 400m semi-final was the respect he was shown by Kirani James, the world champion from Grenada, who sought him out on the track after their semi-final and exchanged the large name tags the runners wear on the front of their shirts.

You’d have to be blind not to know who Pistorius is when he runs. James knows this. He knows Pistorius as a person and a friend.

“It takes a lot of courage for him to race here and compete. Oscar should be an inspiration for us all,” said James.

“Whether we are disabled or not. It’s an honour to compete with him.

“Oscar is so special to our sport, and especially to our event, so this is a memorable moment to be out here competing with him. I really respect and admire the guy. I just see him as another athlete and another competitor and, more importantly, I see him as another person. He is out here making history, and we can all respect and admire that.”

History was made on Sunday night at the Olympic Stadium. Pistorius ran as an Olympic athlete for the second time in two days, fulfilling a dream he has had for the last six years. It has taken legal action, and a training and diet regime that has seen him lose 13kg in the last year. He has the look of a lean 400m runner these days.

He has the respect of them, too.

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