South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius kicked up a mess when he claimed he should be allowed to compete with able-bodied athletes in the Olympics.
Yesterday, it was announced that he and his synthetic legs will be allowed to compete in Beijing — if he qualifies.
The ruling’s direct impact on disabled athletes could be limited, in part because Pistorius, 21, still must post a time fast enough to qualify for the Games. Yet his victory Friday in the Court of Arbitration for Sport sent a message that could long resonate among Paralympians.
“I am extremely shocked that the C.A.S. has made that decision,” said Marlon Shirley, a single amputee who holds world records in the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the long jump in his Paralympic class. “It’s a very brave decision and one that’s definitely going to revolutionize sports.”
The ruling could be moot in the context of the Beijing games if Pistorius doesn’t post a qualifying time.
Pistorius must meet the qualifying standard of 45.55 seconds in the 400 meters to gain an automatic berth in Beijing (or 45.95 seconds for a provisional spot); his current personal best is 46.33, according to his coach, Ampie Louw. With 64 days left, he is in a race to race.
This would easily be the story of the Olympics if Pistorius makes it to Beijing. Which is fine with us. Even when it’s every four years, you can only watch so much gymnastics.