One-on-one with the Blade Runner

2011-07-30 20:47

Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius has made history by becoming the first athlete with amputations to qualify for the IAAF World Championships and the Olympics.

www.citypress.co.za went one-on-one with the Paralympic icon ahead of his race in Budapest in Hungary on Sunday.

What was the first thing that went through your mind when the timer showed that you had attained the required qualification standard and a personal best of 45.07?
Shock! As I saw the scoreboard I was surprised at how fast I had run but it did feel like the perfect race. Everything was good that day – my preparation into the race, my fitness and diet, I had slept well, the lane and weather were good, I had good reaction out of the blocks, I felt strong and I powered home. It was a perfect race for me and I felt relieved to have set the time I knew I had in me.

How did you celebrate your feat?
I took my teammates out for ice-cream – a sugar cone with strawberry and apricot flavour!

How does it feel to be in the IAAF’s top 20 with compatriot LJ van Zyl in the 400m?
It feels great to have accomplished the goals that I set out to achieve, and qualifying for the world championships to represent South Africa shows the hard work that I have had to put in to get to where I am. LJ is a teammate and good friend and I am delighted to be in the same company as him.

The world has been following with keen interest your bid to qualify for top-level able-bodied events. Are you under any pressure to perform to the public’s expectations – that they expect you to make history again and win?
No one puts expectation on me like I do myself. I don’t feel pressure from the public and aim to perform to the best of my abilities.

“You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” How did this motto come about and when?
I have said this my whole life – I have never concentrated on my disabilities.

Of all your nicknames, which one can you say is best suited to you?
I was called the Titan of the Track by the English newspaper the Daily Mail in 2007. I like that nickname a lot.

What do you make of those who are still of the opinion that your Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre artificial limbs give you an advantage over other athletes?
Some of the world’s leading scientists in this field have proven that I have no advantage when competing against able-bodied athletes and I am looking forward to competing both in Budapest this weekend and in Daegu in a few weeks’ time at the world championships. I have seen some ill-informed comments online and I give these comments no credit at all.

Besides running what else are you interested or involved in?
I am very passionate about the two landmine projects I am involved in – Salt of Africa and Minister. Patrons include Sir Richard Branson, Brad Pitt and Nelson Mandela and I am passionate about helping people who have been sadly maimed through landmines. I visited several projects in Mozambique and have seen the effect the landmines have. We are working to provide mobile prosthetic laboratories that can visit areas affected by landmines and provide prosthetics.

What is your message to South Africans?
I am extremely proud to be South African. It is a country which has taught me a lot. We have a diverse culture and history and it is such a phenomenal place to live.

What’s next for the Blade Runner between now and the World Championships?
I am racing this weekend in Budapest (on Sunday) before returning to see my friends and family in South Africa while I prepare for the world championships. I am thrilled to have been selected as part of the South African team to compete at the world championships in Daegu in the 400m and 4x400m relay. It is an honour to be representing my country at such a prestigious event and I hope to do my best for South Africa. I am training hard in preparation for the event and I am looking forward to the Championships immensely.

»The IAAF World Championships run from August 27 to September 4 in Daegu.

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