Blade Runner savours victory in the hundred

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

BEIJING - He might not have won the men's 100m T44 final with a world record time at the Bird's Nest yesterday, but Oscar Pistorius' victory was special to him.

The "Blade Runner", as the double amputee is broadly known in athletics, regards the gold medal, the fifth for South Africa in the Beijing Paralympics so far,  as special because he waited four years for it. He had to settle for bronze in the same event at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

Pistorius won the event yesterday when everybody thought he would fail after a lethargic start. He struggled with his start because of the wet track due to light but persistent rain.

Pistorius won in a time of 11,17 seconds ahead of early pacesetters Jerome Singleton and Brian Frasure who could not cope with his late surge.

The Americans had to contend with silver and bronze as Singleton came second in 11,20 and Frasure third in 11,50.

Pistorius, who failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, had to chase down four athletes. But the South African somehow picked himself up majestically with 60m to go.

Marlon Shirley started well but the America was unlucky when he fell midway because of the wet conditions.

Pistorius' success was not only celebrated by the South Africans, but also by his myriad supporters at the stadium. They shouted his name deafeningly as he proudly raised his hands to greet them after a stunning  come-from-behind victory.

"I could not be faster on 100m," said the grinning champion after the race. "The track was a little bit wet and I should have quickened my pace and went together with other runners but I made a terrible start," he admitted.

He continued: "I was hoping for the world record but I knew that it would be difficult under such conditions. But really I'm not worried about my time because I got gold today. I'm hoping to get two more in the 200m and 400m here and am also looking forward to London 2012."

(Mcelwa Nchabeleng is China courtesy of Sasol)