South African world champion sprinter Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed the “Blade Runner” for the carbon fiber blades on which he runs, will be the first amputee track athlete to participate in the Olympics after he was selected to compete in this year’s London games.
“Today is really one of the happiest days of my life! Will be in London 2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Pistorius tweeted. “Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!”
Pistorius, 25, was named Wednesday as one of 13 athletes on South Africa’s 4×400 National Relay Team by the country’s Olympic committee, despite previously failed to qualify in the individual 400 meters.
Last week at the African championships Pistorius needed to run under the ‘A’ standard time twice to automatically qualify for the London games, but was less than a quarter of a second shy of achieving the qualification.
Pistorius, also nicknamed “The fastest man on no legs,” ran in the individual 400 meter race at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea, where he was the first amputee competing in the race, but he bowed out at the semi-finals.
Pistorius did have the two fastest times of the year in his country this year, which helped clinch his individual spot for London 2012, which is set to begin on July 27.
Criticism and controversy has followed Pistorius for years. A 2008 IAAF ruling stated that his J-shaped blades — called the “Cheetah Flex-Foot” — give him an unfair advantage over other able-bodied racers. This was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who upheld his appeal of the IAAF’s decision.
Born with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs, Pistorius had both amputated when he was 11 years old. He has previously won medals at the Beijing and Athens Paralympics.