Blade Runner: The Man For All Seasons

Got your feet in your mouth with the rather quirky looking subject we deal with? No, we are neither talking about the brilliant cult and awe-inspiring movie by Ridley Scott in Blade Runner, nor are we looking poetically at Robert Bolt’s play. No, we are looking at something that far surpasses them. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Oscar Pistorius, the real “Blade Runner”.


Oscar Pistorius was born in Johannesburg with a congenital absence of fibula in both the legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles. But there were early indications of his grit when his disability didn’t stop him from attending school with all the other children. He participated in the Rugby Union, Water polo and Tennis. He was later introduced to running after a serious Rugby injury and since then, he has sped away to glory. He is studying for a Bachelor Of Commerce in Business Management with Sports Science at the University of Pretoria.


Born on November 22, 1986, this 22 year old from South Africa is a sprinter who runs with a 100m timing of 10.91 seconds, a 200m timing of 21.58 seconds and a 400m timing of 46.25 seconds. Big deal, you might say! A generation that has seen records on track and field shattered quite often might not make much of it. But here is the big deal. He has no legs!


Oscar Pistorius, now popularly known as “Blade Runner” for the prostethics that he uses, is a multiple-Paralympic-Gold-medal winning sprinter who is now attempting to compete with able-bodied people in Track and Field Events bringing new dimensions to the phrase-“fighting all odds”.


His sporting motto is: “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”


The story of Oscar Pistorius is not one of just grit and determination overcoming the odds. It also includes the fact that there are has been constant perseverance, improvement and most of all, talent in the runner who has now become the undisputed short distance champion at the Special Olympics held in 2008.


Oscar was getting as good as to compete against healthy, able-bodied athletes at the Beijing Olympics 2008. But as all fairy tales have a cruel, devious and cunning villain, the story of Oscar has its share of them too. The Citizen in this photograph depicts the interim ban that was placed on Oscar because it was thought that he was “over-abled” by the J-shaped Cheetah prosthetics that he used, which are developed by Ossur. The IAAF placed a special rule that looked as though it was meant specially for Oscar but called it a generic one.


Now, one would have no problem if an advantage was proven, but tests at all Bionic and Mechanical laboratories appointed by the IAAF gave it a thumbs up. Professor Robert Gaily at the University of Miami went so far as to say that their design should be improved to make it a more level playing field. With the ban lifted, he went to try for South Africa. That he didn’t make it and lives to fight another day is a parallel issue. The main issue is something else


It lies in the inherent hypocrisy of this society. We pretend to help the handicapped but derive pleasure by superiority over handicapped people. As soon as they start competing in the real world, and are good at it-there is frustration


Weinmeyer, the only blind person to scale Mount Everest in a passionate defense of Oscar writes about his experience:


“When I was learning how to climb mountains as a blind person, I had a lot of encouragement from experts. But after I summited Mount Everest, these people weren’t ready to accept what I had done at face value. Some said I must have cheated; one even claimed I had an unfair advantage: “I’d climb Mount Everest too if I couldn’t see how far I had to fall.”


Oscar kept quiet throughout the controversy and chose instead to concentrate on his sprint. For him that is his only goal. He confesses that if he came to know that he was getting even the slightest advantage, he would withdraw. Mark of a true champion. But his silence should not be mistaken for a lack of resilience. Ask him what his next steps shall be –Pat comes the answer-“The 2012 Olympics”


The man who has been turning heads everywhere with his speed on the track and field, combined with his grit and determination off it, truly marks a fairy-tale in this cruel, cruel world of ours.A story that gives us hope, a story that gives us strength.


Paraphrasing the famed Forrest Gump line, we can only say:


“Run, Oscar ,Run!”

Roshan Shankar

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