pick up pace, blade runner

AFTER a disappointing performance in Milan last week, South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius is hoping for a marked improvement when he lines up in the 400m B race at Oslo's Golden League meeting on Friday.

AFTER a disappointing performance in Milan last week, South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius is hoping for a marked improvement when he lines up in the 400m B race at Oslo's Golden League meeting on Friday.

Pistorius clocked 47,24 seconds for sixth place in Milan - four hundredths of a second outside his season's best - and his manager, Peet van Zyl, said they had hoped for a time a full second faster.

Van Zyl said a boating accident in February, which resulted in minor injuries that required surgery, had affected Pistorius more than they expected.

"We're not happy because we were anticipating a time in the low 46 seconds," Van Zyl said. "So it seems the boating accident has set Oscar back more than we thought."

Nevertheless, Pistorius gets an opportunity on Friday to improve his personal best of 46,25 when he lines up as one of the favourites in the B race.

Van Zyl is hoping he will be pushed to a career best time by 23-year-old Sudanese sprinter Ali Abubakr Nagmeldin.

A Beijing Olympian, Nagmeldin has a personal best of 44,93 from 2005 and clocked 46,26 - his best time of 2009 - when he finished second at the Primo Nebiolo meeting in Turin four weeks ago. Pistorius was sixth in that race, also in a season's best 47,20.

Apart from Nagmeldin, however, Pistorius is unlikely to face stiff competition from the rest of the line-up, headed by 26-year-old Norwegian Kristoffer Nyhuus who set his career best of 47,36 last year.

But with Nagmeldin likely to string Pistorius along and the rest of the field breathing down his neck, Van Zyl hopes for a better performance than last week.

"The athletes that have been entered with him can most certainly help him to his best time if he keeps it all together in the race," Van Zyl said.

But while the Pistorius camp were confident a couple of months ago that he could qualify for the one-lap sprint in Berlin - the standard is 45,55 - Van Zyl seems less assured after Pistorius's slow recovery from his accident.

"Only time will tell," he said. - Sapa

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