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Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee, qualifies for men's 400-meter race at London Olympics

August 6, 2012

For the first time in Olympic history, one of the qualifying athletes is a double amputee. South African runner Oscar Pistorius was born with two missing fibulas, the bones that connect the feet to the ankles, but that has not stood in the way of this superstar, who has come to be known as the "Blade Runner," according to AllAfrica.com. Over the weekend, Pistorius raced for a chance to advance into the semifinals for the 400-meter run. He did not come in first, or even second or third, but the South African runner's time of 45.44 seconds was enough to allow him to move to the next tier of competition.

"I've worked for six years … to get my chance," the South African athlete told the Silicon Valley Mercury News. "I found myself smiling in the starting block, which is very rare in the 400 meters."

Pistorius finished last in the semi-finals, with a time of 46.54 seconds, but as far as the audience and other runners were concerned, he was still a winner. After the race, the victor of the heat, Kirani James from Grenada, approached Pistorius and gestured that he wanted to switch name tags with the South African, the Star-Telegram reports. The moment ended with a warm, heartfelt embrace and was followed by uproarious applause from the audience.

"Oscar is special," James told the news source later on. "It's a memorable moment to be out there competing against him."

Many disbelievers have tried to assert that Pistorius is somehow cheating because his specially designed carbon running blades help him perform better. In fact, Mercury News points out Pistorius had to go up against official Olympic committee members to plead his case and get the approval he needed to compete in the London Olympics.

However, for the most part, Pistorius is revered by fans as well as athletes. Those who have raced alongside the amputee in the Olympic Games as well as runners who trained with Pistorius in South Africa all agree he is a hard working man. His four gold medals from the Paralympic Games back up this claim. Those who want to talk about Pistorius and his place in the Olympics can make calls to South Africa to discuss the unique athlete with their friends.

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