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Oscar Pistorius targets London Olympics 2012

18 February 2008

By Kaveh Solhekol Oscar Pistorius has set his sights on London 2012 after he was prevented from taking part in the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The 21-year-old South African double amputee sprinter was told last month by the IAAF that he could not compete because the artificial legs he uses give him an unfair advantage. The decision excluding him and other disabled athletes who use such devices from the Olympics followed a scientific investigation into his springy, blade-like prosthetics carried out by a German institution last November.

That resarch concluded that the devices gave him a clear competitive edge over able-bodied athletes as he used 25 per cent less energy expenditure once he had reached top speed. Pistorius and his agent Peet van Zyl, however, have refused to accept the IAAF decision and have hired a high-powered New York-based legal team to take an appeal to the Court of Arbritation for Sport in Lausanne.

"We were quite shocked and surprised when the results came out so we took the results and gave them to several institutes in Amercia and they came back to us and said that they don't necessarily agree with the tests," Pistorius said.

"We launched our appeal through our law firm last week on Wednesday and the IAAF now have ten days to submit any information that they want to submit and we will be taking it from there.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks but it's important to fight it because it has affected tens of thousands of amputee athletes all around the world who are competing in college meets that are affiliated with the IAAF.

"It's very important for the future of disabled-bodied sports that it gets sorted out."

Pistorius, who as an 11-month-old baby had both of his legs amputated below the knee due to a congenital disorder, has been dubbed "Blade Runner" due to the specially adapted carbon fibre blades that have seen him win Paralympic titles and challenge the times set by top-level able-bodied athletes.

His fight for international recognition have brought him global celebrity, TV documentaries, book offers and even interest from Hollywood. But while insisting that he remains confident he can overturn the IAAF ban, Pistorius says time has run out for him to compete in the Beijing Olympics in August.

"Obviously this year I wanted to run in the Olympic Games but I would still have to come down from my personal best even to make the qualification standard and for the 400 metres I think that's going to be a bit of a time-restraint because I can't run in the able-bodied competitions that I need to run in in order to qualify," he said. "So I think it will take a bit more time, but even if we open the door for 2012 I would be very happy about that.”

"I will only be 25 then so I will still have time on my hands and sprinters usually peak at any time between 25 to 26, 28, 29. Obviously if I could have another Olympics in the bag it would be awesome, but I am still very confident for 2012. We have a very strong case with the research that our guys have done and I wouldn't be appealing it if I thought that I did not have a foot to stand on - which I don't!"

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