Amputee Sprinter Tries For Olympics

obeygiant

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By Associated Press | July 14, 2007
ROME -- Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius warmed up for his debut in a world-class able-bodied race by finishing second in an invitational 400-meter race at the Golden Gala meet yesterday.
Pistorius charged from behind in the final straight to finish in 46.90 seconds, well off his personal best of 46.56. A double-amputee below his knees, Pistorius races on carbon fiber prostheses that resemble blades. Stefano Braciola of Italy won in 46.7.
"I am not very happy about my time, but it's still nice to be out on the track," Pistorius said. "These past three weeks have been very tiring so I guess my time was to be expected."
Pistorius, 20, has been under an intense media spotlight since he was given permission to race in able-bodied races by the International Association of Athletics Federations last month.
Tomorrow, Pistorius will run the top-tier 400 at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Sheffield, England, in a field that includes Olympic champ Jeremy Wariner.
boston globe

The 400m is a difficult race. Too long for a full sprint, too short for a long distance. 46.56 is excellent. The prothetics may or may not be an advantage.
 

BoyBach

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I can remember reading an interview with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson after she retired from competition about this. The gist of it was that it's absurd that a 'disability' could rule him (Pistorius) out of the Olympics because it gives him an unfair competitive advantage.

The news came as no great surprise to Tanni Grey-Thompson, the multiple Paralympic champion who retired earlier this year and who retains a hard-boiled attitude to the political manoeuvrings she has spent a sporting lifetime observing.

"I have been expecting him to be banned," she said. "When he was running less quickly it was all quite jolly, but as soon as he started running fast times, that's it. I think this has provoked a debate about what it is to be disabled, and what it is to be able bodied.

"I think there's an argument both ways. People will say that he can pick the length and style of his prosthetics, so maybe that gives him an unfair advantage. I think it's probably more of a disadvantage to be running with two lower limbs missing. But others will say if he can be racing against able-bodied runners on two false legs, good luck to him. Oscar is a stunning talent. He is as far ahead of his Paralympic rivals as Michael Johnson was over his Olympic 400m competitors 10 years ago. He has been given a glimpse of inclusion but now it looks like being taken away from him.

"The authorities probably shouldn't have let him compete against able-bodied athletes in the first place. They've given him a chance to get out of the ghetto but they are going to throw him back in again."
Blade Runner: One man's amazing race to take part in the Olympics - The Independent
 

Jasonbot

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I was reading in the local newpapers that there were also issues of lactic acid seeing as Oscar has no calves he cannot get lactic acid build up or whatever in his calves and therefore will have an unfair advantage over competitors. His defense was that seeing as his calves do not carry lactic acid there must be another part of his body that does, this being his back, and therefore he is not at a serious advantage vs. other competitors.
 

Scottcop

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I was reading in the local newpapers that there were also issues of lactic acid seeing as Oscar has no calves he cannot get lactic acid build up or whatever in his calves and therefore will have an unfair advantage over competitors. His defense was that seeing as his calves do not carry lactic acid there must be another part of his body that does, this being his back, and therefore he is not at a serious advantage vs. other competitors.
Other full legged athletes have the same issues, plus the issues of calves, achilles, knees etc. I'm sure he has his own other issues, but he has bypassed quite a few common ones

His prosthetics have replaced his calves, which may or may not be better at being legs than legs themselves.
I'm sure I read somewhere that humans are not entirely built that well for exercise. His single pieces of metal seem much better designed that the complex array of tendons, muscles, bones that others have.
 

Earendil

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I saw this on the news the other day.
And I really do want to root for him and say he should compete in the "able bodied" olympics, but...

I don't think he should.
First off, I realized the only reason I originally thought he should is because I thought that he was "rising" to the level of those with legs. That he was pulling himself out of the "gutter" as the auther so put it, and trying to complete with "real" athletes. That's utter BS.

The problem I see is this: Inevitably prosthetic legs with undeniably be faster than human legs, at least when designed for a particular race. So why include then in a race now?

The only way I can agree with this is if he was allowed, through money or privilege, some prosthetic that other disabled athletes did not have access to, and thus were getting creamed by this guy in races. But then my motivation for wanting him to compete against those with legs would be so the other disabled athletes had a fighting chance.

I hope no one thinks me inconsiderate. I can try and explain my view better if need be...
Perhaps there are some facets here I'm not understanding.

And the 400m IS a sprint, btw. Those runners don't change their pace, unless they are speeding up. In highschool they slow down, but that's the reason a guy at ours killed everyone else, he started off the blocks in a full fledged sprint...and ended the race even faster. He now takes top marks at Western Washington Uni :)
 

obeygiant

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A little update:

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The IAAF ruled Monday that double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is ineligible to compete in the Beijing Olympics because his prosthetic racing legs give him a clear competitive advantage.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had twice postponed the ruling, but the executive Council said the South African runner's curved, prosthetic "Cheetah" blades were considered a technical aid in violation of the rules.

"As a result, Oscar Pistorius is ineligible to compete in competitions organized under IAAF rules," the IAAF said in a statement from Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Pistorius, known as the "blade runner," announced last week that he planned to appeal any adverse decision, including taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"The natural feeling from our side would be to appeal the verdict and see what avenues we can take forward," the runner's agent, Peet van Zyl, told the BBC after Monday's verdict. "Oscar wants to prove that he isn't getting an advantage."

The decision was reached in an e-mail vote by the 27-member IAAF Council. The vote count was not disclosed but believed to be unanimous.
Fox

Well he won't be able to compete. Those amputees just cant get a break sometimes. :)
 

topgunn

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A little update:

Fox

Well he won't be able to compete. Those amputees just cant get a break sometimes. :)
All in all, I believe that this was the right call. While it is questioned whether these blades give him a mechanical advantage or not, I think the situation is a slippery slope that the IAAF did not want to start down.
 

Abstract

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I agree with not letting him compete as well. Whether he has an advantage, or even a disadvantage....the fact of the matter is that we want things to be as equal as possible, and for running, having 2 legs and no performance-enhancing drugs in your body seems to be the things you must have to compete. We can't really prove that he doesn't have an advantage, but I don't think we need to.
 

Evangelion

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""I think there's an argument both ways. People will say that he can pick the length and style of his prosthetics, so maybe that gives him an unfair advantage. I think it's probably more of a disadvantage to be running with two lower limbs missing.#
By same logic: "of course he should be allowed to run in the regural olympics while using anabolic steroids, since having lower halves of his legs missing gives him more of an disadvantage".

Yes, the guy is disabled. Does that mean that if he wants to compete against non-disabled, he should be allowed to use technology to gain benefit that the other contestants do not have? No.
 

takao

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i saw a report on TV about it a few days ago where they explained (backed by simulations/studies from some german university) how his prostheses have a much higher ratio of "power put in - power coming out" and thus work more like a spring...
i think the numbers were around 80% of power gained back for the artifical leg and 45% for leg of a top athlete (and much less for a normal person)
so a normal athlete has to waste a lot more energy on getting the same forward thrust

seems like quite a significant advantage
 

samh004

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I think it's quite sad that people are claiming he has an unfair advantage in the Olympics and he should only be allowed at the special Olympics, as if his prosthesis gave him an advantage in the "regular" Olympics then surely no one at the special Olympics should be able to use it either, thus making the whole thing invalid.
 

obeygiant

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I think it's quite sad that people are claiming he has an unfair advantage in the Olympics and he should only be allowed at the special Olympics, as if his prosthesis gave him an advantage in the "regular" Olympics then surely no one at the special Olympics should be able to use it either, thus making the whole thing invalid.
Well I think the "special" olympics is only for the mentally handicapped isn't it?