Double-amputee Pistorius fails to qualify in 400

August 29, 2011 - 11:00 AM
APTOPIX South Korea Athletics Worlds

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius gestures after qualifying following a Men's 400m heat at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius reached his goal in the 400 meters, even though he didn't secure a spot in the 400-meter final at the world championships.

The South African ran in the semifinals against able-bodied athletes Monday at Daegu Stadium, but he finished dead last in 46.19 seconds — 0.80 slower than his qualifying time a day earlier.

Pistorius is the first double-amputee runner to compete against able-bodied at a major championship.

"I would have liked to perform better tonight," said Pistorius, who received a huge cheer when he was introduced ahead of the race. "My goal was to make the semifinal and I did it. ... Even if I would have ran faster tonight, I wouldn't have made the final.

"It was a great opportunity and I've learned a lot from the experience."

Pistorius, who is known as the "Blade Runner," had his legs amputated when he was a baby and runs on carbon-fiber blades. It was a long road to get to worlds.

Pistorius was originally banned from competing in major championships by the IAAF because the international track and field governing body said his blades gave him an unfair advantage.

But in 2008, he was cleared to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, making him eligible for the Beijing Olympics later that year. He couldn't meet the qualifying standard and sat out the Olympics while winning multiple gold medals at the Paralympics.

Pistorius again failed to qualify for the 2009 worlds in Berlin, but he reached the "A'' standard in one of his last races before Daegu, finishing one lap of the track in 45.07 seconds to earn a place at the world championships.

"It has been a lot of years of hard work, dedication and consistency from my coaching staff," Pistorius said. "Very happy with this opportunity. I have learned a lot and I am sure I will be able to use this experience and implement it in my races in the future."

That future is likely to start later this week. Pistorius is expected to run in South Africa's 4x400 relay team on Friday.

However, the IAAF is only allowing him to run the opening leg of the race, since it is run in lanes. The governing body is worried he could hurt other runners once it turns into a pack race.