Oscar wins hearts

2012-08-06 00:00

OSCAR Pistorius did not progress to the 400 metres final and finished last in his heat in a pedestrian 46,54 seconds, but none of that mattered last night — the Blade Runner made his mark on the London Olympics.

The entire stadium celebrated his achievement, with cheers normally reserved for the home team.

“The whole experience was mind-blowing. Thanks to everyone for the support,” said the double amputee, who became the first athlete to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics. “They say there’s 70 000 people here; it felt like 170 000 tonight.”

He qualified with a second-placed heat time of 45,44 on Saturday morning and bowed out of the individual 400 m with the affection of the crowd and his name in the history books.

Immediately after finishing, heat winner and world champion Kirani James, the 19-year-old Grenadian, swopped his pinned-on name label with Pistorius, who will also run in the 4x400 m relay, as the two men embraced.

“He’s an inspiration for all of us. It’s an honour competing against that guy,” James told reporters. “What he does takes a lot of courage. He’s a great individual and it’s time we see him like that and not anything else.”

Pistorius said of James’s gesture: “It was very kind of him. We share a similar life and it’s what the Olympics is all about.”

Pistorius, who was originally selected as part of the 4x400 m relay squad, had no expectations of making the final, but hoped to improve on his placing in the semi-finals at the Daegu 2011 World championships.

Zwelinzima Vavi ‏@Zwelinzima1

Oscar Pistorius is an absolute hero representing unmeasurable courage and determination to triumph against all odds. I salute him!!

mark boucher ‏@markb46

Take a bow @OscarPistorius! Nice gesture by James after the race! Shows the respect he has earned from his fellow competitors! That’s special!

Dan Nicholl ‏@dannicholl

Last in his heat — and the night’s greatest hero. Not sure @OscarPistorius realises just how much he’s inspired a planet.

Soli Philander ‏@MrKapeTown

Kirani James you just stole SA’s heart with that gesture! We love @OscarPistorius #Olympics2012 #TeamSA #teamGrenada

Cameron van der Burgh ‏@Cameronvdburgh The whole heat congratulate him like gents. @OscarPistorius salutes the stadium and the crowd go wild! #Legend

Francois Hougaard ‏@Francois hougi What a Champion @OscarPistorius!!!! The whole South-Africa is proud of u my boy! Continue the amazing work u do! U inspire millions!!!

Danny K ‏@dannykmusic

Proud to have @OscarPistorius as my fellow countryman … More than medals, he won the hearts of the people around the world

Sir Clive Woodward ‏@CliveWoodward @OscarPistorius just watched you race in the stadium, brilliant — everyone full of respect for your determination and wonderful attitude



Kirani James, world champion

He’s an inspiration for all of us, it’s an honour competing against that guy.

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