Olympic Stadium, London - After he had been beaten for the first time in the Paralympics 200m, a clearly upset Oscar Pistorius called for the rules governing prosthetic legs to be more strictly governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Pistorius suggested that the Brazilian Alan Oliveira, who won gold in 21.45 seconds, beating the SA superstar into second place, had used a loophole in the rules to gain an unfair advantage. Oliveira came from behind to win.
Some of the double-leg amputees lengthened their carbon fibre prosthetics to give themselves an extra kick towards the end of the race.
“[Oliveira’s] got the same tech, it’s all the same,” said Pistorius, “but there are restrictions on the height and the guys have made their heights a lot taller in the past few months. Alan is a terrific guy, he’s a great athlete, but he’s never run a 21-second race and I don’t think he’s a 21-second athlete, never mind a 21.4secs athlete.”
Pistorius and several of the single-leg amputee athletes have been asking the IPC to tighten up the rules after Oliveira and Blake Leeper, the American double-leg amputee, added about 10cm to their blades. It gave them an unnatural height and an advantage.
Leeper finished third, just beating Arnu Fourie, the single-leg SA amputee. Fourie set a new world record for the T43 class for single-leg amputees. He crashed into Leeper as they crossed the line.
“I’ve never lost a 200m race in my career. I’ve never seen a guy come from eight metres back on the 100m mark to beat me on the finish line,” said Pistorius. “I ran a great race. I really did try, obviously I did try. There’s never been another Paralympic athlete to run a 21-second 200m.”
Commenting on Brazil’s Alan Oliveira, who won the first heat in 21.88 seconds, storming clear of American favourite Jerome Singleton in the finishing straight, Pistorius said: “There is definitely something up with the length of the prosthetic legs.”
According to the agreement Pistorius reached with the IAAF, he may not lengthen his blades to compete against able-bodied athletes. If he does, he will be banned from the Olympics. Paralympic rules are a lot more lax in this regard.
Oliveira, a double-amputee through congenital illness, said he was disappointed by the criticisms and rejected Pistorius' claims.
“It's not just about the protheses, there is training behind (my performance). I get upset to hear this kind of thing. I'm inside the rules,” he told reporters.
“I came here to celebrate and do not enter in any polemics. (He is) not a bad loser. Pistorius is a great athlete. I'm just sad with the interview where he said that my blades are too big.
“He was bothered by the time I had in the semi-finals and wanted to get to me with this polemic with the blades but it did not work. I still do not know with whom he is picking a fight. It's not with me.”
Meanwhile, SA’s Charl Bouwer, who won his second medal of the 2012 Paralympics on Sunday night, has a simple motivating reason for making sure he makes every final at these Games that he can – he does not want to waste his parents’ money.
“My mother and my father are here to support me. It’s quite expensive so they are only watching the finals. So I have to make the finals so I don’t waste their money,” said Bouwer.
He took silver in the 100m freestyle for the visually impaired last night. He is now R175 000 to the good after Sunday night, thanks to Sascoc’s incentive programme. The silver will go nicely with his gold for the 50m freestyle, which he won on Saturday. His parents will consider their money well spent on the 22-year-old who is in his third Paralympics.
Achmat Hassiem could not stop looking at the Paralympic bronze medal he won on Saturday night in the 100m butterfly, one of six won by Team South Africa that day. He lost a leg in a great white shark attack off Muizenberg in 2006 when he slapped at the water to attract the shark away from his brother. He wants to spend his R40 000 from Sascoc for a prosthetic he could run on.
The Star, AFP