Frankly, we’ve been waiting for this one. As a kid, after too many episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, we asked our parents how long they thought before prosthetic limbs might impart an athletic advantage. Pure fiction, they told us.
Well, now we have Oscar Pistorius, an amputee sprinter facing challenges from the tnternational track & field governing body over whether his carbon fiber legs do just that.
Since March, Pistorius has delivered startling record performances for disabled athletes at 100 meters (10.91 seconds), 200 meters (21.58 seconds) and 400 meters (46.34 seconds). Those times do not meet Olympic qualifying standards for men, but the Beijing Games are still 15 months away. Already, Pistorius is fast enough that his marks would have won gold medals in equivalent women’s races at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Pistorius’s time of 46.56 in the 400 earned him a second-place finish in March against able-bodied runners at the South African national championships. This seemingly makes him a candidate for the Olympic 4×400-meter relay should South Africa qualify as one of the world’s 16 fastest teams.