The Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius Makes Olympic History, Advances to 400m Semifinals

The Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius Makes Olympic History, Advances to 400m Semifinals

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa made history on Saturday morning, becoming the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Olympics when he lined up for a first-round heat in the men’s 400 meters at London’s Olympic Stadium. The crowd saluted Pistorius with roars of encouragement; he sprinted to a second place finish in his heat in 45.46 seconds, a season-best time, and advanced to Sunday’s semifinals.

Pistorius reached the finish line after six lomg years of yearning to achieve a qualifying time and five years of scientific and legal arguments about whether his prosthetic legs gave him an unfair advantage over sprinters using their natural legs.

Read more about the amazing achievements of Oscar Pistorius in the New York Times here.

Oscar Pistorius Makes Olympic History, Advances to 400m Semifinals

The Blade Runner: South Africa’s Amazing Oscar Pistorius

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“Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius Reaches 400 Meters Semi-Finals At World Championships

“Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius Reaches 400m Semi-Finals At World Championships

“Blade runner” Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter running on carbon-fiber blades, passed his first test with flying colors on his debut at the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Pistorius swept past several able-bodied runners, finishing third in his heat to reach the semi-finals of the 400 meters Sunday. The South African, who has had to overcome huge legal and performance obstacles just to be allowed to race in Daegu, South Korea, on his prosthetic legs, delighted the crowd with a strong run of 45.39 seconds from an outside lane.

The crowd rose to the double amputee as he powered down the final straight before a band of his compatriots chanted “Oscar! Oscar!” to confirm the 24-year-old as one of the sentimental favorites of the championships. Describing his landmark race as a great relief, especially after the disruption of a false start by another of the runners, Pistorius said he had fulfilled a long-held ambition.

After he crossed the line, Pistorius gave an appreciative bow to the South Korean crowd of about 10,000 for its cheers and support. After the race, Pistorius said, “I have worked extremely hard to be here” “It has been phenomenal to run. It has been a lot of pressure in the race, and there is a lot of work for tomorrow.” “It was a great opportunity for me to have a chance to run, this is a goal I’ve had for many, many years,” he told reporters. “I really don’t feel like a pioneer but I’m very honored to be in the position I am in . I hope to write a few more chapters, I’m still young.”

World Athletics 2011: Pistorius Reaches 400m Semi-Finals

The Blade Runner: South Africa’s Amazing Oscar Pistorius

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The Butterfly Circus: A Limbless Man Driven to Hope

The Butterfly Circus: A Limbless Man Driven to Hope

The Butterfly Circus is an award-winning, inspiring short film directed by Joshua Weigel, which recently won the $100,000 grand prize at the Doorpost Film Project.  The Butterfly Circus is the touching tale of a circus that travels across America during the Great Depression.  As the troupe travels through the devastated American landscape, it lifts the spirits of audiences along the way.  During their travels they discover a man without limbs being exploited at a carnival sideshow, but after an intriguing encounter with the showman of The Butterfly Circus, he becomes driven to hope against everything he has ever believed.

The Butterfly Circus: A Limbless Man Driven to Hope

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Impoverished Places: An Inspiration to Comfort and Transform Us

Impoverished Places: An Inspiration to Comfort and Transform Us

Impoverished Places is a dramatic, uplifting five-minute short film produced by the Canadian filmmaker Karen Pascal, which provides a sensitive, poetically touching evocation of  our needs for human connections.  In the film, two dancers, one of whom has lived with Parkinson’s Disease for thirty years, enact a dramatic portrayal of the relationship between the finite and the infinite, while all the while reaching into their “impoverished places” to comfort and transform us.

The film stands as a bold reminder that people are capable of doing great things that can in turn inspire greatness in others.  It quietly makes a strong statement supporting our social aspirations for peace and a soothing sense of communion that is stronger and deeper than the need to win in the competition of life.  More specifically, it evokes an emphasis upon wishes for both belonging and human connection.  This, in turn, is interpenetrated with a hope for the kind of society in which people with developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them can work together in ways that enable each person to grow to his or her full potential.

Impoverished Places: An Inspiration to Comfort and Transform Us

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The Butterfly Circus: A Drive to Hope

The Butterfly Circus: A Drive to Hope

The Butterfly Circus is a deeply touching short film directed by Joshua Weigel, which recently won the $100,000 grand prize at the Doorpost Film Project.  In the depths of the Great Depression, the ringmaster of a renowned circus leads his troupe through the devastated American landscape, lifting the spirits of audiences all along the way.  During their travels they encounter, Will, a quadriplegic who is living out his life in a cruel carnival sideshow.  It’s only when Will joins the Butterfly Circus that he acquires a drive to hope against everything he has ever believed, finally being able to realize his true potential.

The Butterfly Circus: A Drive to Hope

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A Backbone Tale: The Beauty of Ugliness

A Backbone Tale: The Beauty of Ugliness

Une Histoire Vertebrale (A Backbone Tale) is an award-winning short animated film by Jérémy Clapin, which in the classic comic tradition manages to be sadly touching, romantic and funny.  In our eternal race to find love and happiness, some unfortunate souls start with a handicap, as is the case of the sad little man we join in this film.  A malformation of his backbone forces our hero to walk with his head held low, permanently fixed toward the ground.

How on earth is he supposed to search for happiness, to find his loved one, when all that his eyes can see are his own little feet?  And who’s going love him, someone who looks so sad, terribly lonely, and very different from other people?  The emotional state of this poor little fellow, his loneliness and quest to find another human being like him, reveals a profound analysis of the alienation and frustration of people: man needs to live with other men.

A Backbone Tale: The Beauty of Ugliness

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The Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius Wins Olympics Appeal

The Blade Runner: South Africa’s Amazing Oscar Pistorius Wins Olympics Appeal

Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee South African sprinter, will be allowed to compete for a place on South Africa’s Olympic team after an international sports regulatory body ruled today that his carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs do not give him an advantage over other runners. The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has the final say over legal issues in sports, has overturned an earlier ruling against Pistorius, which had been made in January by the International Association of Athletics Federations. The IAAF had declared Pistorius ineligible for able-bodied competition, despite originally clearing him to compete last spring, pending further investigation. Pistorius will be allowed to resume his efforts immediately. The Court of Arbitration for Sport was established in 1984 to resolve disputes involving international sports organizations and athletes.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Dick Traum, who is the head of a group of disabled endurance runners named the Achilles Track Club, claimed that the ruling marks a major advance in the promise for athletes with disabilities of being able to compete against athletes without them. “It is absolutely the most exciting thing that has ever happened in terms of the way the sport has turned,” Traum said. “Over the past generation the way people look at amputees has changed dramatically. People like this man are admired instead of ushered to one side.”

The earlier IAAF ruling against Pistorius had concluded that his blade-like “Cheetah” running prosthetics amounted to a technical device that gave him a demonstrable mechanical advantage, because they worked more efficiently than the human ankle and allowed the user to consume less energy than an able-bodied athlete running at the same speed. However, upon reviewing arguments contained in the appeal filed by Pistorius, the Swiss Court of Arbitration said that it was not convinced that the device gave Pistorius an overall “metabolic advantage” and ruled that he should be allowed to compete for the 2008 Beijing games. The new ruling came as a a very happy surprise for the 21-year-old South African, who had already shifted his vision to competing in the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Oscar Pistorius, who is a sports celebrity in South Africa where he is designated “The Blade Runner”, commented that the ruling by one of sport’s highest bodies verified the arguments that his defense team had assembled with the help of a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers. Although the earlier IAAF decision had focused upon the efficiency of the blades, Pistorius’s defense team argued in its appeal that, overall, he had no advantage over runners with both of their legs.

I have been struggling to hide my smile for the last half an hour,” Pistorius said in an interview in Milan. “The truth has come out. We have the opportunity once again to chase my dream of participating in an Olympics.” Pistorius would not be the first athlete with a disability to earn an Olympic spot. Neroli Fairhall, an archer from New Zealand, competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games from a wheelchair, and runner Marla Runyan, who is legally blind, was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team in Sydney, Australia.

However, both Pistorius’s disability and the adaptive prosthetic equipment that he uses are uniquely connected to his specific athletic sport. Using the blades, Pistorius has broken Paralympic records in the 100, 200 and 400 meter events. Pistorius also ran in som
e able-bodied competition last spring, running in a race at The Golden Gala meet in Rome and then at a Grand Prix meet in Sheffield, England. While he did not meet the Olympic qualifying times for those races, last year Pistorius finished second in the 400 meter event at the 2007 South African National Championships. Many sports observers think that Oscar Pistorius now has a good chance to earn an invitation to join the South African Olympic 4×400 meter relay team, which will take a squad of six sprinters to Beijing.

The Blade Runner: South Africa’s Amazing Oscar Pistorius

The Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius Runs

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