May
16
2008

Blade Runner: Coming soon to an Olympics near you?

Blades of glory: Disabled South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is challenging rules that prevent him from competing in the Beijing Olympics. He's the current world record holder in the Para Olympics 400 meters.
Blades of glory: Disabled South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is challenging rules that prevent him from competing in the Beijing Olympics. He's the current world record holder in the Para Olympics 400 meters.Courtesy Twisted Physics
Can a disability turn into an advantage on the running track?

That’s the question that double-amputee South African sprinter is forcing Olympic officials to deal with this spring. Oscar Pistorius, in his latest round of legal challenges, has won a ruling that he can compete for a spot in the Beijing Olympics taking place this summer.

Pistorius is nicknamed “Blade runner” because during competitions he uses to springy prosthesises on the bottom of his legs that look like big blades.

He wants to compete in the 400 meters and has a career best time in that race of 46.56 seconds. But that’s a bit off of the Olympic qualifying time of 45.55. With this new ruling, even if he doesn’t hit that qualifying standard, South African track officials could have him run segment of relay races. The 400 meters is a sprint that encompasses one lap of the standard running track.

Is this fair?

Those in the established track community contend that the “blades” give Pistorius a mechanical advantage over regular-limbed runners. Yet, his career best 400-meter time of 46.56 is also the Para Olympics world record for that distance. The able-bodied world record for the 400 meters is 43.18 seconds held by the U.S.’s Michael Johnson.

What do you think, does Pistorius have a mechanical edge with his blade feet? Should he be allowed to compete at the Olympic level if he can post a qualifying time? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

this looks cool, but also looks hard to run on it.

posted on Thu, 05/22/2008 - 8:49am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Oscar has come up short on his efforts to get a qualifying individual time for the Olympics. Here are the full details. He does, however, have a qualifying time to run a section of a relay race if his national team selects him.

posted on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 12:19pm
Conor Holt's picture
Conor Holt says:

You guys are just feeling sorry for him. Its a choice hes made and i respect him for it but if hes defying the rules by cheetah blades

posted on Fri, 01/07/2011 - 7:55am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options