Ostrava – Double amputee Oscar Pistorius endured a shocking start to his ongoing battle to nail qualification for the able-bodied London Olympics on Friday.

The 25-year-old South African, who runs with carbon-fibre artificial 'blades' and was cleared to compete at top level in 2008 when the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ruling by the IAAF that his blades gave him an unfair advantage, came in a sorry eighth and last in the men's 400m.

Pistorius, who had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old because of a congenital condition that meant he was born without fibulae – lower leg bones, clocked 47.66sec.

His time was 2.54sec off American LaShawn Merritt's winning 45.13sec and far away from the 45.70 he needs to nail to ensure his participation at the London Games this summer.

“The time was so bad!” Pistorius said. “I don't know what to say. I can run that fast at the end of a tough training session or straight after getting up out of bed in the morning.

“The start actually wasn't that bad, but between 30 and 120 metres, there was nothing, far too slow.

“You could call that a really bad day. But I have no one else to blame apart from myself.

“I have to run two more meetings and then train in my base in Italy.

“I have to concentrate on myself, maybe work more on the start and hope this time can be forgotten.”

Pistorius failed to qualify for the 400m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after being cleared by CAS to compete.

But he went on to compete at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea, where he made the 400m semi-final and won a silver in the 4x400m relay, although he did not race the final.

The result was a good one for Merritt, the defending Olympic champion and reigning world silver medallist, who was banned for 21 months after testing positive for the anabolic steroid DHEA which his lawyer claimed had been contained unknowingly in an over-the-counter penis enlargement product.

“I'm satisfied with my performance here,” Merritt said. “I wanted to go for the meet record but the weather put paid to that.

“I'm in great shape for the Olympic trials and I hope I won't be missing the London Olympics.

“There I want to fight for the medal - the golden one.” – Sapa-AFP