Pistorius is a friend but he shouldn’t run at the Olympics, says Johnson

Michael Johnson says it’s tough to judge Oscar Pistorius’s situation as he is a good friend, but ultimately he feels the Bladerunner should not compete at the Olympics

Posted on November 17, 2011 by
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Oscar Pistorius (Mark Shearman)

Double-amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius this year competed in his first global able-bodied major event, making it to the semi finals of the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.

Should he wish to do the same at next year’s Olympics, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee have said that his performances from this year won’t count and that Pistorius must achieve the qualifying standard in the three months leading up to the Games to prove his fitness.

Pistorius’s participation in able-bodied events has long been a contentious issue within the athletics world, going back several years when he first stated his intentions and the IAAF began their research into how much advantage he gains from his prosthesis.

400m world record-holder Michael Johnson, despite being a friend of Pistorius, says that the multiple Paralympic champion should not compete alongside able-bodied athletes at next year’s Olympic Games in London.

“There are two different things you need to look at, and when dealing with an issue like this you need to look at it closely,” said Johnson, a member of the Laureus Academy. “A lot of people make a judgement at 30,000 feet, but you have to delve down into it to understand the history.

“This should not be about Oscar Pistorius,” he added. “I know Oscar and I consider him a friend; we hung out at the World Championships in Daegu and he’s a really good guy. But he knows that I disagree.

“I think that Oscar is an incredible person and an incredible athlete and it’s an inspirational story. But that doesn’t make it right. When you take it outside of the context of Oscar, as I’m able to do, as a friend I want to see him do all that he wants to do. He wants to compete there and I want to see that.

“But at the same time, looking at the larger context – and Roger Black made this comment, which was an incredible point which I thought summed it up perfectly – let’s say that there’s a 44-second 400m runner who then has a horrific accident unfortunately and then is an amputee, and then you put these blades on him and he’s running 40 seconds for 400m. Now all of a sudden the people who are saying “Oh, you should let Oscar run” are saying “but you shouldn’t let him run”. Why would he have different rules? So you have to look at the situation that way.”

8 Responses to “Pistorius is a friend but he shouldn’t run at the Olympics, says Johnson”

  1. Caron Gilbert says:

    Oscar Pistorius is unique. He has worked hard to get to this point. So why are people so adament that he do one or the other and he fails in his ambition which has kept him fired up for as many years as he has been running. Has has been running extraordinary times in the 400 m, also the 200m as a paralympian. Please don't get in the way of this young man not acheiving his Olympic Dream just because he is who he is, His outlook on his disabilityis are such that he thinks of himself as differently abled to do the things we as able bodied can do. He has used, also, Bravery and Courage and committment to get where he is. Don't stop him in his tracks. (excuse punn).

  2. Carl says:

    Michael Johnson is an arrogant, pompous, angry jackass.

  3. Fiona Walker says:

    I agree with your evaluation of this extraordinary brave and talented man. However, his personal charisma shouldn't have any bearing on his right to compete in an event for which he is not physically qualified. How is it different to counting wheelchair athletes (who invariably post faster times) to marathon runners? Or why can't men enter women's races? I can cycle 3,000m faster than Mo Farah can run it, so can I compete with him? No, it has to be like vs like within a defined category to mean anything. The fact is that he does not suffer the lactic overload of the calf muscles that slows down runners without blades. This is no way diminishes his achievements.

    • thomas says:

      Fiona, a word to the wise. When you finish a 400 meter dash, your whole body hurts not just your calves. There are very few in existance who can run a world class 400 meter time and walk off the track without breathing hard
      (ie michael johnson, jeremy wariner, sanya richards when she's on, among a short list of others ,). I admire some of you guys passion of the sport, but you have to know what your talking about before posting comments. Tony from Central Texas All the more reason why we should be in awe of oscar, he has HEART! in spite of those prosthetic legs.

      • Fiona Walker says:

        Thomas, please don't assume I don't know the pain of the 400m, I know it extremely well even though my VO2 max doesn't let me get anywhere near these guys! And I agree that Oscar has heart, without question. But that isn't part of the objective criteria that should apply to fair competition (what, if he was an objectionable character perhaps he could't run? Hmm, interesting view but it seems to be what you are saying.) My point wasn't about "your whole body hurts" it was specifically about the slowing impact of lactic build up, which Oscar will not feel.

  4. Big fan says:

    @caron,

    because it sets a precedent, and is inherently unfair. The advantage with these cheetah legs is calculated at about 8-10seconds! Fortunately, and I say this with respect, Oscar is not a naturally world class runner otherwise this argument would have been over years ago when he was destroying world records. Anybody with a high level athletics background and some understanding of the kineisiology behind it can clearly see and understand the issues here. I am almost inclined to let oscar run at the olympics and then impose a ban for the future. I don't think Oscar can impact the results (ie make finals) and it would leave a better taste in our mouths for all of his hard work. But I am fundamentally against him being allowed to compete. Way too big of an advantage.

    • thomas says:

      i dont see how people can say he's at an advantage with the (cheetah legs)? come on people, i dont care how high
      tech those prosthetic legs are, he still is an double amputee. If anything he has to work harder. i dont get this argument. I am a former trackster from the great state of texas and we breed em fast down here, and i ran the quarter when i was young and when that monkey gets on your back on the last curve you are going to feel it prosthetics or not. How can you say he is not a world class sprinter and he runs a 45. quarter. You must dont have and athletic background or you would'nt have said something so damn dumb. Thomas Central Texas track

  5. thomas says:

    Finally , im surprised and disappointed that michael johnson made that comment. He should know better. I think those able bodied people who keep the fueling the fire on this controversy should be ashamed of themselves. This man is physically challenged and we should be inspired by his accomplishments, and to be negative in any sort of way is somewhat disturbing to me. Stop sitting on your opinionated asses behind a computer screen judging people.
    I still cant get why people think he has an advantage? Those are not motorized legs, he still has to use his upper body,torso and thighs. I really think a lot able bodied runners are hating on him because they dont want to be beaten by a person with prosthetic legs. I think it's embarrasing to them, but leaves me in awe at how oscar does it . thomas smith central texas done with the subject

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