Saturday, January 31, 2009
Another blog that I drafted a few months ago, but never got round to publishing until now.
Oscar Pistorius is a South African Paralympian, who recently one three gold medals at the Paralympics in China. He is famous not for this, but for his prosthetic limbs. Born without some of the bones in his legs, Pistorius’ lower legs were amputated at an early age. He now runs with the ‘Cheetah Flex-foot’ and is nicknamed The Blade Runner.
Scientific testing in 2007 revealed that these prosthetics give him advantages over able-bodies athletes, because they require less energy from the body and do not fatigue. Therefore he was prohibited from competing in the able-bodied Olympics in China. At the time there was much debate, and the most convincing argument I heard was something along the lines of:
‘he has no lower legs, so of course he shouldn’t compete in the Olympics. That’s what the Paralympics are for –athletes with body parts missing or not working. In what other sport would a sportsman be allowed to use machinery to aid his performance where others cannot?’
That made a lot of sense to me. Sport is very competitive, and some people, for whatever reason, are not good enough. For some, they have no lower legs. For most, we’re just not good enough – not skilled, strong, quick enough. That’s how sport works! It tells you who is the best at something. If Pistorius is allowed these prosthetic limbs to help him run faster, I should be allowed something to help me go faster. A bike perhaps? Clearly mad. Unfortunately for Oscar, because he has no lower legs, he is not good enough to compete in the Olympics. However, also because he has no lower legs, he is eligible to compete in the Paralympics, more than can be said for me. He should take his opportunity and stop whining.