Oscar Pistorius won't have to cross the finish line in world record time or win multiple gold medals to be considered the biggest winner of the Olympic Games in London. That's because the sprinter from South Africa has already claimed that title well before the torch has been lit in England, marking the start of the biggest competition in sports.
On July 4, Pistorius, a double-amputee who uses carbon fiber blades to run, was selected to run the 400-meter event, in addition to the 4x400-meter relay for South Africa. Pistorius will become the first amputee track athlete to compete in the history of the Olympic Games.
It's been said that no athlete is bigger than the team, franchise, or league, but Pistorius has become bigger than the Olympic Games itself. No matter how he finishes, Pistorius will always be remembered as the athlete who shattered a barrier and gave hope to people and athletes around the world who are living and competing with disabilities every day.
Pistorius has been living that way since he was 11 months old. That's when doctors amputated his legs halfway between his knees and ankles, the result of Pistorius being born without the fibula in both legs. Talk about being a dealt a bad hand. However, Pistorius never gave in to self-pity or the all the people who said he'd never be normal or good enough. Pistorius played that hand like few other athletes and those with disabilities, ever have.
Outfitted with carbon-fiber blades, Pistorius morphed into a phenom, setting world records for parathletes in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and 400 meter events. He was tagged with the title of,"The fastest man on no legs" and became known as, "The Blade Runner."
However, his ascent to success and fame wasn't without controversy. In 2008, the International Associations of the Athletic Federation ruled that Pistorius couldn't use his carbon fiber blades in "able-bodied" competitions, saying it gave him an unfair advantage, a decision that was subsequently overturned.
In July of 2011, Pistorius achieved the 'A' standard for the 400-meter race which qualified him for the London Olympics. His selection to the South African team wasn't a publicity stunt or an act of charity, "As I have said many times before, we are not taking passengers to London," South African Olympic Committee President Gideon Sam told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
When he competes in the Olympic Games, Pistorius, 25, will become a walking, talking, and sprinting advocate for disabled athletes everywhere. He is living proof that nobody, abled or disabled, should ever put limits on themselves. Pistorius will transform many who begin every sentence with, "I can't do" into believers who will now say, "Yes, I can."
If Pistorius does well, there will be arguments about the carbon-fiber blades that allegedly give him an unfair advantage. But those who cry about that will be missing the point and the big picture. This is about the true spirit of the Olympic Games and the spirit and will of an athlete who has overcome so much to achieve his dream. This is about delivering a message on the biggest stage in the world that no obstacle is too big to conquer and that if you dream it and believe it, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.