Pistorius hails 'hardcore' Paralympians
Updated: Sunday, 09 Sep 2012 16:04
Oscar Pistorius believes London 2012 has proved that the Paralympic Games is not just about inspirational stories, but "hardcore sport".
The South African brought the curtain down on a summer of action at the Olympic Stadium last night with a belated first gold medal of the Games, emphatically winning the 400 metres title.
It was a fine way to end a week which had started in hugely controversial circumstances for the 25-year-old, after he launched a furious attack on the long blades worn by Alan Fonteles Oliveira after the Brazilian beat him to 200m gold.
Pistorius has since apologised and been at pains not to re-enter the debate, however many times he is asked.
And despite the loss of that crown to Oliveira and his 100m title to British teenager Jonnie Peacock, he leaves London with the impression the public perception of the Paralympics has changed.
"I think people are going to look back at this Paralympic Games and for the first time really, truly believe that Paralympic sport is not just inspirational, it's hardcore sport," he said.
"It's full of triumph, sometimes it has disappointment, but that's what we look for in sport. We want it to be competitive and that's what it's been about.
"I couldn't have hoped for anything better, this has been one of the biggest highlights of my life."
Regardless of his farewell win, Pistorius' claims minutes after he stepped off the track after the 200m that he was not competing on a level playing field have overshadowed his achievements on it.
Oliveira certainly ran a bizarre 400m race last night, staying with Pistorius for the first half of the race and then tying up so badly he missed out on a medal. He said afterward he had not trained for the event and "suffered" at the end.
The South African admitted plenty of things about the Brazilian "baffle" him, not least his decision to use starting blocks in the 400m and not in the 100m, but he has learned the hard way to go into no more details.
"That's about all I can say about that," he said.
American David Prince, the 400m bronze medallist, with far less of a global brand to protect, was happier to go further.
"(Oliveira's nickname) was Little Buddy and when we saw him about two weeks ago we changed his name to just Buddy, because he's not little anymore," he said.
The Games has also seen growing calls for single-amputee (T44) runners and double-amputee (T43) runners to split classes. At the moment they compete together.
Sprinter Jerome Singleton claimed it was like comparing "apples to pineapples", while Prince insisted the T44 athletes like him would always be disadvantaged.
"As a single amputee we struggle with balance," he said. "When I run with my blade I keep a little piece of lead on my toe which helps balance out weight. Bilateral amputees don't have to deal with that.
"I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's extremely challenging (to beat double amputees). The kind of training I can do and the kind of training they can do is completely different."
Whether Pistorius chooses to re-enter them or not, both debates will rumble on, possibly all the way to Rio in 2016. And the original Blade Runner will be there.
"Every year's about improving," he said. "I will focus on the three years leading up to 2016 and every year I focus on improving my world ranking.
"I'd like to do under 45 seconds next year for the 400m and hopefully get my 200m title back in Rio."