Timeout with the ‘Blade Runner’ – 2/2
Paralympian Oscar Pitsorius had a fantastic 2011 and just weeks into the new year, he’s at it again. The ‘fastest man on no legs’ is in Italy to compete in Dancing with the Stars,. but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to the Laureaus website about his plans for 2012 and his nomination for two Laureaus Awards this year.
What would competing in the Olympic Games in London mean to you?
OP: It would just be extremely special, I've been since 2005 really working on my times, I tried to quality for the 2008 Olympics and missed it by under a quarter of a second, which was extremely frustrating at the time. I really don't want to let it slip through my fingers again. It's very difficult to try and explain it. I think it's like working for a promotion for six or seven years consistently and then finally being able to get it. It will just be a huge sense of accomplishment. I mean, everything I do in track I try and do better than any of my competitors. I try to train harder, I try to dart better, I try rest and recovery in ways, in research ways of trying to do all of those, that's really what gives me the confidence that at the end of the training day and the end of training week I can look back and try and believe that I can honestly say to myself that I've tried to train within the top 5% of my competitors. So, being able to put years of that mentality together for a couple of days is definitely a very difficult thing to try and describe but it will be by far one the highlights of my life.
Do you think these Olympics in London are going to be very special?
OSCAR PISTORIUS: I think ‘very special' is definitely an understatement to try and describe how amazing the Olympics and the Paralympics is going to be in London. Coming from a country (South Africa) where we've hosted the Rugby World Cup, we've hosted the Football World Cup and the Cricket World Cup, I've seen firsthand how huge a sporting event can (be) for a country and how it can just bring everybody together. Sport is definitely the only thing in the world which transcends all boundaries, it just brings a common interest that people have and makes them closer....I've competed quite a bit in UK and in London and I've seen the excitement that there's been for sport, I think nobody's fully aware of how amazing the Olympics and Paralympic Games are going to be in London.
Have you seen Olympic Park in London?
OP: I have. I've been to the Olympic Park. It's absolutely amazing. I actually had a bit of a quiet moment there, got to sit up in the grandstand and just look out on the track and try and envision (racing there). When I was there, it was about 500 days out and I'm sure a lot has changed since then, but it's extremely exciting. It's a bit of an intimidating stadium, it's very big and I think the energy that we're going to get as athletes competing is going to be tremendous. You know the work that Lord Coe has done to organise an event like that and the facilities that they've prepared, you know, the athletes just have to bring their A game now and that makes it a lot more exciting.
The British public really will engage won't they with this event?
OP: It's amazing, I've seen, whether it be on Twitter or reading in the press, you see people's excitement, if they've just got tickets or proof of tickets and they are so excited to watch this and this event and I think that's really what it's about, you know, that public interest. I am very excited for people to go and watch the Paralympics in a way, because there's sports there that aren't mainstream sports that people will be seeing for the first time. Sitting volleyball is one of the sports that I actually enjoy watching the most and I think it's really going to open people's perception to the word competition in a different means that we've never experienced before. So, It's very very exciting seeing that and, you know, we're still six months out, so I'm sure with the time, it's just going get more and more exciting.
As a competitor, what are the challenges for doing the Olympics AND the Paralympics?
OP: You know, the challenge of doing both the Olympic and Paralympic games is pretty tremendous. Being able to stay on peak and qualify, you know, a month or two months out before the Olympics and then still maintain the high level of competition for the Paralympics is going to be very demanding. With that said, this season I ran very quick times in March and I was able to maintain it until September, so my coach has done a phenomenal job of getting me quick. I think the most challenging part is going to be after the Olympics, the three weeks that I have leading up to the Paralympics to get my speed work back up to, for the 100 metres, that for me is probably my biggest worry and then obviously, weather conditions when you're doing speed work in the rain it sometimes becomes a bit of a disaster, so we'll just see what happens.
You have achieved quite a remarkable double this year by being nominated for two Laureus Awards – the Breakthrough of the Year Award and the Disability Award – what does that mean to you?
OP: Being nominated for Breakthrough and Athlete with a Disability is extremely important to me. Obviously, it's pretty humbling, I guess, if you consider that it's the world's media that, you know, nominate through the first round so it's very humbling. I've been to the Laureus Awards and seen the scale that it's been held on several times, and it's just a completely amazing experience.
Does it make a difference that the people who are voting, the 47 members of the Academy, have all been there and done it?
OP: It makes it a lot more meaningful that the 47 Laureus Academy Members are the ones that are choosing the winners. These are all sportsmen that have been probably the greatest in their, in their careers, in their fields of play. It's always a lot more, for me, the weight that somebody like that carries is a lot more than, than somebody that's just a critic.......these are icons in their sports and legends and it's really humbling.
Could you have ever imagined for an Award you would be up against Yohan Blake, Mo Farah, Petra Kvitova, the Wimbledon Champion, Rory McIlroy, US Open golf champion, Li Na, who won the French Open tennis?
OP: Yeah, I think if you look at the nature of the sportsmen that I'm competing with in this, in this field, I'm just extremely privileged just to be considered a part of them. I mean, I watched Yohan Blake's race at the World Champsionships. You know, I'm an avid golf fan, so I've watched all the guys playing throughout the year, the guys that have been nominated. It's hard to think that my name is up there amongst theirs.
And good for Paralympic sport that a Paralympic sportsman is in this category with people who are competing in non-Paralympic sport?
OP: If I look how the difference is between 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing, how the transformation and education surrounding disability to the general public has changed and then from 2008 to now in London, I'm sure it's going to be even more. Yes, it's inspirational, but it's hardcore sports, it's athletes training year in and year out. There's victories, there's triumph but there's also disappointment. I think Paralympic sports have come an extremely long way and I'm excited to see that international people that have never been exposed to Paralympic sports, that have very limited knowledge about people living with disabilities, are going to be able to witness it first hand and I think their perceptions are definitely changing. The Laureus Awards and being nominated in these fields definitely does show that the platform that Paralympic sports is operating on is growing tremendously and it makes me very proud.
Are you a man who has goals? Do you have targets or do you just let the year unfold?
OP: Yeah, I think, I'm somebody that likes to set goals and targets but I'm also somebody that likes to work for the now. I like to wake up in the morning and know that today is part of a bigger picture, but today is its own day and the training sessions that I've got, I need to make of it the best that I possibly can so looking into 2012, you know, I'm excited for the opportunities that lie ahead. The Paralympics is going to be a phenomenal experience, I'll be running the 100, the 200, the 400 and 4x100 relay for the first time. And then the Olympic Games for which I've run one ‘A' qualification time, but it's still going to be a couple of months until I run a second ‘A' qualification time and although I've got that target and that goal in mind, there's a lot that needs to happen.
After an amazing 2011 with hopefully an amazing 2012 to come, where is Oscar Pistorius now?
OP: You know, with 2011 being a great season and my best to date, going to 2012 definitely gives me a lot more confidence after last year. I know that I can do the times, that I'm capable of doing, the times I need to do but it makes it a lot more exciting for me, in a sense a lot more nerve-racking. You know, now that I've run the times, there's a lot of pressure that I'll do it again, which I want to but you constantly have to know that if you don't work hard, you know, that opportunity can pass, and this is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime, so yeah, every day you wake up, every time you put a meal or something in your body, you have to think about, is it productive to your sports, is it going to make you quicker or better or recover faster and then every time you train, you get to the training session and you know that you must put in the best work that you possibly can do. So, very excited for this year, coming off the 2011 season and we'll wait and see what happens. I think the next six months is going to be very interesting. – www.laureas.com