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Double Amputee Finishes Last, but Still Looks Forward to Beijing Olympics

Double amputee Oscar Pistorius finished last on a rain-soaked track at the British Grand Prix race, held in Sheffield on Sunday night .

He runs with carbon fibre blades attached to both legs below the knees.

To add to his discomfiture, he was also disqualified for having run outside his No. 8 lane.

He ran the 400 meters in 47.65 seconds, well off his personal best of 46.34 and his 46.90 from Friday in a fair-weather tune-up in Rome.

Thus the 20-year-old South Africans debut against the able-bodied might have been a tad disappointing for him, but he is still dreaming of competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He called British event "a little steppingstone" and said, "I make of it that I've got a lot of training ahead of me."

Pistorius, is trying to convince the world governing body, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to let him compete at next year's Beijing Olympics, but the body says it is still looking into whether his blades give him an advantage.

Born without fibulas, without ankles and without calf bones, he had his legs amputated at 11 months, yet played rugby as a schoolboy until an injury steered him toward running five years ago, by now using blades an Icelandic company modeled after the curvature of the legs of the cheetah.

At the Paralympics in 2004 in Athens, he won the 100, 200 and 400 meters. At the 400 tune-up in Rome, he roared from seventh to second in the final meters in a "B" race against seven Italian runners. In South Africa and elsewhere, he won the nickname "Blade Runner" and the plaudit "fastest man with no legs."

After the Sheffield race, Pistorius attacked the IAAF for making "derogatory" comments about the Paralympics.

One official was reported to have opposed Pistorius' involvement in able-bodied races on the grounds that it could pave the way for athletes to compet e wearing jet-packs on their backs.

Rocket belt, rocket pack, jet pack, and similar names, are various types of device, usually worn on the back, that use jets of escaping gases to allow the user to fly.

"It would be a lot more productive to do the testing with me rather than against me," he said. "For a federation that size making allegations and derogatory comments about Paralympics, then the least they can do is give me the opportunity to fight my fight and work with me instead of against me. It's pretty unprofessional the comments that they have made."

Pistorius, who ran in the outside lane, went faster in the second half of the race than the first 200 meters at the Don Valley Stadium.

To qualify for next year's Beijing Olympics, the South African would have to run a 46.3 before July 2008 -- and get IAAF approval. Although the loss was expected, the disqualification doesn't help his chances to convince a skeptical IAAF that he should run at the Olympics.

Asked whether Pistorius, would be banned from competing against able-bodied athletes wearing his blades, IAAF communications director Nick Davies Davies felt it was still too early to say.

"We are open-minded. We would like to get Oscar into a laboratory where we can do more detailed testing and we hope he will actually stop the sort of confrontational attitude he has with us and realize we are also doing our job," Davies said.

"The whole world does not centre round Oscar Pistorious. We have all our other work to do but we want to be fair to him and give him a chance."

In March the IAAF introduced a rule outlawing technical aids, although it allowed Pistorius to continue running while further investigations are carried out.


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