London 2012 Paralympics: Pistorius hits out at rival’s blade length after shock defeat in 200m

Blade runner Oscar Pistorius is beaten over 200m and accuses winner Alan Oliveira of using blades that are too long for his height

Posted on September 3, 2012 by
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Oscar Pistorius (Mark Shearman)

Such is the magnitude of the shock in Oscar Pistorius’s defeat in tonight’s T44 200m final, it has been compared to Usain Bolt being beaten on the Olympic stage.

That in itself would be headline news the world over, but Pistorius whipped up a media frenzy after his race when he accused Brazilian winner Alan Oliveira of using blades that were too long.

Pistorius looked to be on his way to a guaranteed victory as he had a comfortable lead at half way. But Oliveira made up significant ground in the second half to catch the South African before the line and hand Pistorius his first ever defeat over the distance, 21.45 to 21.52 – notably slower than the 21.30 world record Pistorius had set in yesterday’s heats.

Pistorius, more than anyone, is familiar with debates over prosthesis as he was involved in a long dispute with the IAAF as he fought to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes.

But after arguing with the IAAF that his blades give him no advantage over able-bodied athletes, the 25-year-old is now claiming that there’s too much leeway within the International Paralympic Committee’s rules with regards to blade length, allowing some athletes to run “ridiculous times”.

“The IPC don’t want to listen, the guy’s legs are unbelievably long,” said Pistorius after his race. “I’m not taking away from Alan’s performance; he’s a great athlete, but these guys are now a lot taller than they were a year ago and you can’t compete with their stride length. You saw how far he came back. We’re not racing a fair race here, but I gave it my best.

“The IPC have their regulations, but they allow for athletes to make themselves unbelievably high and they’re running ridiculous times. We tried to make our case heard, but it’s just fallen on deaf ears. I think Alan’s a great athlete, but his knee height is four inches higher than it should be.

“This is a very strong race of mine; I run at 10 metres per second, and I don’t see how you can come back against that from eight metres behind at half way. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

The IPC were quick to react, and in an official statement Craig Spence said: “All blades are measured and Oliveira’s passed the test. There’s been no infringement of the rules.”

Oliveira also defended his blades. “The length of my blades are alright, I went through all the procedures with the referees,” said the 20-year-old. “I’m here competing because I’ve been allowed to do so, and I believe Oscar knows that.

“I’ve not changed my blades between races, and they follow the IPC rules. I’ve been using them for a month.”

The following morning Pistorius’s management leapt into damage-limitation mode and released a statement from the sprinter where he apologised for the timing of his comments.

“I would never want to detract from another athletes’ moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday’s race.

“I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.

“That was Alan’s moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him. I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims.”

Both athletes are due to clash again in three over events – the 100m, 400m and 4x100m – throughout the course of the Games.

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