Pistorius runs seventh at Randall's Island
Oscar Pistorius' quest to qualify as the first Olympic sprinter on two prosthetic legs will have to wait at least one more day.
Pistorius finished seventh in the men's 400-meters at the adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island Saturday afternoon, coming nearly one second behind what he needs to qualify for this summer's London Olympic Games.
Pistorius, from South Africa, ran a 46.14, into a headwind on the back straightaway. The African Olympic Committee has said Pistorius will need to post at least a 45.30 -- a feat he has accomplished twice before -- to earn an individual spot on the South African Olympic team.
Pistorius has been battling a nagging hip injury for the last month but was encouraged by his performance in Saturday's race.
"I'll take it," Pistorius said. "It's the best finish I've had so far in the last two weeks."
A warm sun peeked through the clouds as the 25-year-old Pistorius set himself up in the blocks. His upper body is lean and chiseled and his head is closely shaven. He wears sleek sunglasses. And, below both kneecaps, he has prosthetic, L-shaped, carbon-fiber blades, right out of a sci-fi scene.
He is nicknamed the "Blade Runner," and the sight is indeed jarring. His walking gait is more of a bounce, like he's bounding on pogo sticks. But then Pistorius bursts from the blocks and races around the track as smoothly as any world-class runner, arms and metallic legs working in rhythm.
His personal best is 45.07, set last year, which would've won Saturday (Luguelin Santos, of the Dominican Republic, won with a 45.24; Jeremy Wariner of the United States finished second). He also ran a 45.20 in March. But the African Olympic committee wants to see him do it again.
Pistorius will consider racing in a smaller meet in Europe on June 23 or 24 for another chance to qualify, and then will compete in the African Championships. After posting two disappointing times in his most recent races -- which Pistorius blamed on his injured hip -- he said he felt his range of motion had improved.
"It's frustrating when you know you're strong and you know you've put the time in and everything," Pistorius said.
"I'm feeling a lot better today," he added. "I think in the next two weeks it's going to be a lot better."
His use of prosthetics has been controversial in the sprinting world, with accusations that the legs provide him an artificial boost. In January 2008, Pistorius took legal action to appeal a ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations that declared him ineligible to compete in IAAF races, including the Olympics. In May 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Pistorius's appeal.
Pistorius missed qualifying in the 400 for the 2008 Olympics by 0.70 seconds.
He said he feels confident he'll be invited this year as a member of South Africa's 4 x 400-meter relay team, which won the silver medal at the World Championships last year.
But Pistorius wants to represent his home country in an individual event. He's confident, after Saturday's, he'll finally earn that chance.
"I really believe that after today's race I'm back on the road to where I need to be," Pistorius said, "and I'll find that rhythm pretty quickly."