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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May, 2005, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Olympic dreams of a blade runner

By Mike Burnett

South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius
Who knows, one day I could be competing at the Olympics

Had Oscar Pistorius lined up for the Olympic 400m final in 1928, he would have left his opponents for dust.

The double amputee's world record time of 47.34 seconds would have been good enough for gold at all eight previous Games too.

Seventy-seven years later, 'the fastest man on no legs' is dreaming of representing South Africa at the Olympics.

He is aiming to impress when he competes at the Visa Paralympic World Cup, which starts next Thursday.

"It's really exciting to be taking part in the Paralympic World Cup," he told BBC Sport. "It's a sign people are getting more into disabled sport.

"I'm hoping to run the 200m in 21.4 seconds and I want to become the first double amputee to do a sub-11-second 100m."

The 18-year-old, who runs on carbon-fibre 'blades', has enjoyed a rise to stardom almost as fast as his track times.

Pistorius only got into athletics early last year when he was sent to the University of Pretoria for rehabilitation following a knee injury.

A few months later, he was at the Paralympics in Athens, competing against the likes of American sprint star Marlon Shirley.

400m times (in secs):
47.34 - Pistorius world record
47.8 - 1928 Olympic gold
44.00 - 2004 Olympic gold
200m times:
21.97 - Pistorius world record
22.0 - 1920 Olympic gold
19.79 - 2004 Olympic gold
100m times:
11.16 - Pistorius world record
11.2 - 1906 Olympic gold
9.85 - 2004 Olympic gold

Along with bronze in the T44 100m, he clocked 21.97 secs to beat single amputee Shirley to gold in the 200m.

The teenager is now eyeing success at the World Cup in Manchester next week but is disappointed by the absence of his main rival.

"Obviously Marlon Shirley pulling out is a bit of let-down.

"There's an unsaid rivalry between me and Shirley - we're always competing against each other.

"For me, it's always about beating him and he feels the same about me."

But Pistorius still has plenty to strive for as he aims to reach both the Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing in 2008.

After finishing sixth against able-bodied competitors in the 400m at the recent South African Championships, he will take another step closer to his dream this summer.

He will become the first Paralympic athlete to appear in an IAAF Grand Prix by running in the 400m in Helsinki in July.

"The IAAF started questioning whether a disabled athlete can run able-bodied times and now that's changed to whether disabled athletes should compete," he said.

"I've been invited by the IAAF to take part in a meeting in Helsinki.

"This could lead to better things and who knows, one day I could be competing at the Olympics."

Oscar Pistorius will appear on A Question of Sport, BBC One, on Friday 13 May at 1900 BST.

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06 May 05 |  Disability Sport
Paralympic World Cup schedule
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Shirley to miss World Cup event
05 May 05 |  Disability Sport
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20 Sep 04 |  Disability Sport


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