Over the last few days since Pistorius’s comments after losing his 200m title, there has been a large debate going on worldwide as to whether his point is valid or not. There have been many contrasting views and I believe that the reason for this is mainly because many people don’t fully understand what his argument is.
Firstly, I would like to remind you all that he has brought the issue of blade height up in the past and that he did not just bring it up because he lost the final. Because he had not received a response from the IPC, he probably felt it was necessary to bring up the issue on a big stage like the Paralympics.
Anyway, lets move on to the real debate of whether his point is valid or not. He is not arguing that Oliveira’s blades are longer than allowed, but rather that the rules are too lenient and that they allow runners to wear blades that are too long.
This is shown by the fact that Oliveira is 5cm taller when he runs on track than when he walks around on his other legs. He has also said that it took him a while to get used to the longer blades when he tried them on last year but that they are ‘good for an improvement’. This certainly supports Oscar’s point.
Some people ask that if it is in the rules then why is it a problem? The problem is that Pistorius is not allowed to run with long blades against able-bodied athletes. He is approved to run against able-bodied athletes as long as he uses the approved shorter prosthetics in competition. The fact that the ruling says that again supports his point that longer blades give runners an advantage.
Another point that was brought up was that Oliveira’s stride length was still shorter than Pistorius’s in the race. This is true. However, with longer legs, it is easier and it uses less energy for Oliveira to make a stride. This means that he is able to save more energy and power for the end of the race than what he would be able to do with shorter legs. This again proves Pistorius’s point that the longer blades give an advantage.
You can also point out that Pistorius is still taller than Oliveira even when Oliveira wears the long blades. However, this is beside the point. Usain Bolt is a lot taller than many of his competitors but nobody would even think of claiming that Bolt has an unfair advantage because he’s tall. Also, Oliveira has the added benefit of being light and tall at the same time. That was one of the reasons Pistorius was originally banned from competing with able-bodied athletes. This further proves Oscar’s point.
All of these points that I have raised show that Pistorius is right in questioning the rules. The timing may have been a bit off but his point is still valid.
Please note that I have used Oliveira as a scapegoat for the article’s purposes and I (and Pistorius) acknowledge that there are a few others who also use longer blades on the track.
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