Olympic Perspectives

There is a wonderful human interest story unfolding at the Olympics as the world watches “Blade Runner” move ahead in the competition.

Paul Berton, in an article in the Spectator on July 27, wrote about covering the Games looking for the human interest story:

We tend to forget the Olympics are tarnished by corruption, commercialization and politicization. We overlook bad behavior by some Olympic officials, and extravagance by others. We try to forget about the lack of integrity, poor sportsmanship or outright cheating by some athletes. To say nothing about sexism and racism….

We thirst for stories of an athlete’s ability to overcome obstacles. Such stories make us dream of our own potential and drive us to do better, which, of course, is what it’s all about.

So I was interested in the amazing story of Oscar Pistorius, the 25-year-old double-amputee runner, who made an outstanding debut at the London Games early Saturday morning. Racing on flexible, blade shaped carbon fibre prosthetics, the South African finished second in his 400-metre heat and has qualified for the semifinals.

His journey to the Olympics has not been without controversy. After dozens of hearings in front of hundreds of men and women in suits charged with the task of deciding whether the blades gave Pistorius an unfair advantage — then getting his country’s Olympic committee to accept his qualifying times and enter him into the games — Pistorius finally got his chance. He had to win a court order to compete in these Olympics, and he will also be competing in the Paralympics. Should he be allowed to compete in both?

No matter the outcome of the race tomorrow night, Pistorius will probably steal the limelight. Consider the other runners. No one will want to admit to being outrun by an amputee, even one who is a gifted athlete, and there will be other questions too…  about the fairness of being allowed to participate in both games, and special advantages inherent in the blades he wears.

But to voice any complaint would appear weak and unsportsmanlike… definitely not politically correct.

He already has four Olympic golds from the Paralympics… could he add another one here? And would it be valued as “worth” any more, or any less, in the eyes of those who take these things seriously?

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