Wednesday 13 November 2019

‘Blade runner’ Pistorius insists can cope with Olympic challenges

Paul Hirst

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius insists he will be able to cope with the demands of challenging for medals in both the Olympics and Paralympics next year.

Barring injury or a dip in form, Pistorius will become the first amputee sprinter to compete at an Olympics when the Games come to London next year.

The double-leg amputee, who runs with the help of two carbon fibre blades, already has three Paralympic gold medals and hopes to add an Olympic medal to his collection next summer.

The South African proved he could cut it in able-bodied competition last week when he won silver in the 4x400 metres relay at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Pistorius hopes to compete in the 100 metres, 200m, 400m and the two relay events at the Paralympics, which start on August 29 - just 17 days after the Olympics end.

With the 24-year-old planning to compete in two events in the Olympics, that has led to fears of burn-out for the sprinter, but he insists he can deliver in both competitions.

"I think that's been a worry with some people," said Pistorius, who was speaking at International Paralympic Day in Trafalgar Square today.

"But I ran my third fastest time this year in April and I ran my second fastest time last week. That's a good sign that I have been able to keep it up.

"I have qualified for the 200 metres and the 400 metres okay over the last few years but the 100 metres has been something I've had a big challenge with.

"The guys are hot on my heels. Guys like Jerome Singleton are phenomenal competitors.

"I don't think it's going to be decided on the physical side of it next year. It will be decided on the mental aspect.

"You have to be focused and I have a great coaching staff which I have a lot of faith in. They won't let me down next year.

"They will be there when I need them most."

Pistorius' mental toughness came under stress more than ever last week in Daegu.

The Johannesburg-born star helped the 4x400m team reach the final only to miss out on selection.

They won silver without him, but his participation in the previous round meant he picked up the medal which made him the first amputee medallist at an able-bodied international athletics tournament.

Pistorius, who stormed out of a radio interview on Tuesday, thinks he dealt well with the media scrutiny.

"I think it put a lot of pressure on to me," he said.

"Although you feel the pressure, sometimes it depends how you take it, and I feel that I took it pretty well in Daegu and hope I'll be able to do the same next year."

The humble 24-year-old insists the spotlight should be shone on other Paralympians who, he claims, work even harder than he does to reach the top of their sport.

Jerome Singleton is another Paralympian who runs with carbon fibre blades and American woman April Holmes has also used a prosthetic limb to help her become a dominant force in the Paralympics.

Both were coy when asked about their hopes of pushing to compete in able-bodied competition today, but Pistorius thinks any amputee athlete should be given the chance to compete at a full Olympics.

"Long before I came along in the sport there were a lot other Paralympic athletes who were fighting for inclusion in sport and there are a lot of them (now) who are fighting for inclusion," Pistorius said.

"There are many amazing Paralympic athletes. Some of them do more than I do. I watch some of their performances and I'm blown away by what they can do. I believe in their inclusion, maybe even on an international level.

"If they are able to compete at whatever level they can then they should go for it."

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