Oscar Pistorius of South Africa just qualified for the 400-meter and the 4x400-meter relay races at this year's World Championships, his first trip there. That's an amazing feat in itself, but made more amazing as Pistorius is a double amputee, using two carbon-fiber Cheetah prosthetic legs to run. He'll be the first-ever amputee athlete to perform at the event.
Pistorius, at 24 years old, has had his share of difficulties in competing with able-bodied athletes. His prosthetics were at one time declared to represent an unfair advantage over the athletes using the flesh-and-blood legs they were born with, rather than the space-age sproing-y Cheetah legs Pistorus uses, though he was eventually cleared for Olympic competition.
Pistorius isn't a favorite at the World Championships--his qualifying time, a personal-best 45.07 seconds, was just barely fast enough to earn him a ticket to the games in Daegu, South Korea--but he calls it "the highest-profile and most prestigious able-bodied event which I have ever competed in."
We've previously called for a league of exclusively performance-enhanced athletes, but it sounds like Pistorius is thrilled just to compete with the best able-bodied sprinters in the world.
It's little tink tink! (anyone? Kat Williams? Yeah?)
...po lil tink tink. :(
carrying about 40 less lbs and with mechanical limbs that probably give him a advantage, it doesn't seem fair he should compete in this event.
It's not fair to have him compete. He certaintly has an advantage with those Cheetah legs. Lighter weight, higher and faster rebound with each stride, doesn't experience muscle fatigue in the calves and expends less energy because he doesn't have to power anything below the knee. Not to mention each step is almost perfectly consistent with the last. I wouldn't be suprised to learn that he doesn't use as much quad or hamstring as able body athletes either.
I'm really happy for the man, it's amazing that he can still do what he loves inspite of his injuries. Plus it's comforting to know that current technology is advanced enough to produce prosthetics that can compare or even improve human ability(although improvig it in only a few specific areas and not as a whole). But he still shouldn't be allowed to compete. They really do need a seperate category for exceptional people like him.
I don't see how this apparatus would give him an advantage. There is a reason the calf muscles get tired, it's because they are doing work. The muscles in your lower leg add to your speed just as surly as the upper leg muscles do.
Yes the lower legs do work that aid in running. But these prosthetics mimic the same motion as the calves and ankles without the need to burn energy. AND the meterials used can create more of a rebound and forward propulsion vs mucle fiber, ligaments and bone. Did we mention it weighs less than those listed? In the end his prosthetics are more efficeint in this one particular range of motion. How can he not have an advantage?
He doesn't feel anything from those legs. He has no feedback. Our standing position is a constant battle against falling, subconsciously correcting ever single disbalance.
Without any feedback, he has to consciously correct his stance. Running is easier than standing, but he has to be more cautious if he wants to keep running.
This should prove interesting.
Also, I highly support the idea of a different league for enhanced athletes. It would create motivation for innovating in the domain of prosthesis amongst many others. Plus it would also create a dream similar to the able-bodied league : sport for humans and beyond humans, without the condescencion attached to the paralympic games.
this is cheating, imagine if those wheelchair guys could do the marathon! if this is ok whats wrong with showing up in some sort of mechanical running stilts? insane
While this is awesome and I commend the man for getting back up and helping science push forward, I do have to agree that having him compete against athletes who have to deal with muscle strain, fatigue, and other bodily issues in the portions of his legs that are missing is a little unfair. Regardless though, I am happy to see that people who have to have limbs amputated can look to him as hope that one day they will run too.
Sir, Good luck in your races!
It seems that the lack of feedback from below the knee & lack of direct control would offset the lower weight and higher rebound.
A league for augmented athletes would give rise to even greater competition and support from the manufacturers of these devices. Increasing private funding in ways similar to how auto racing has increased the interest in performance development in that area. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. (super-athletes?)
I see a lot of misconceptions in the comments here regarding prosthetic technology. the claims that this is cheating or otherwise provides an unfair advantage are wrong. The disadvantages far outway the benefits. Having lighter legs is no replacement for the real thing.
This is why the olympics reversed their position, the evidence claiming he had an advantage was lacking. Furthermore, you need only look at all the military amputees returning to active lives. They may be able to run, play sports, even return to active service, but their mobility and speed never return to the levels they enjoyed when able bodied.
The day may come when the technology can surpass the human body, but we still have a long way to go.
I am curious as to why so many folks think the prosthetics would give that fella the advantage. Lets compare shall we?
1.A normal athlete's legs are a part of him and cannot fall off if he pushes to hard. 2. If the normal athlete qualifies for a race he is allowed to run it and because he has no idea how fast others can run he must run as fast as he can in order to beat othe possible qualifiers. ok so we just covered two minor points that prove that this fella with the prosthetic legs has the same chance to win as does anyone else who qualifies for the race. The only difference being that instead of maybe losing a shoe he could lose an entire leg during the race. As for sandbagging the qualifying race? highly unlikely as he would not know how fast the others could run of if they are sandbagging as well therefore. LET the Man run! he has earned it, he qualified, the only advantage he has is that he is obviously a tuff competitor to continue to run after losing both legs. That determination is his only advatage and shame on anyone for suggesting otherwise.