• London Olympics 2012

Pistorius to make history after Olympic selection

ESPN staff
July 4, 2012
Pistorius will compete at London 2012 © Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius will become the first double amputee to compete at an Olympic Games after he was named in South Africa's squad for London 2012.

Pistorius was one of 12 names added to South Africa's squad when it was finalised on Wednesday - although initially only as part of the 4x400 metres relay squad.

However, having achieved the Olympic 'A' standard in the 400m twice during the qualification period, he was subsequently added to the entry list for the individual 400m as well.

"Included in South Africa's 4x400-metre relay team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Paralympic ace Oscar Pistorius will also be permitted to run the men's 400-metre race," a short South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) statement read.

The 25-year-old had thought his chance of competing in the individual event had gone, after he failed to achieve the 'A' standard in his final race before selection was confirmed at the weekend in Benin. However, South Africa's Olympics Committee subsequently changed its mind and added him to the entry list.

"Today is truly one of the proudest days of my life," Pistorius said in a statement. "To have been selected to represent Team South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the individual 400m and the 4x400m relay is a real honour and I am so pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together.

"I have run two Olympic 'A' standard times over the past twelve months and with the time I ran at the African Championships last week I know my speed and fitness are constantly improving so that I will peak in time for the Olympics.

"I have a phenomenal team behind me who have helped get me here and I, along with them, will now put everything we can into the final few weeks of preparations before the Olympic Games where I am aiming to race well, work well through the rounds, post good times and maybe even a personal best time on the biggest stage of them all."

Pistorius reached the semi-finals of the event at the World Championships in Daegu last year, while he was also part of the relay squad that claimed a silver medal - although he was controversially not involved in the final having helped the team qualify from the heats.

"To have been selected is a real honour and I am so pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together"
- Oscar Pistorius

The SASCOC had previously been adamant that it would not select any athlete who did not fully meet their selection criteria - and Pistorius had not run an 'A' standard time twice in the current calendar year as the selection body stipulated. However, the SASCOC subsequently relented.

"As I have said many times before, we are not taking passengers to London," SASCOC president Gideon Sam said. "Everyone has met selection criteria and are genuine Olympic Games material, either now or for 2016. I wish them all the best."

In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a decision from the IAAF that banned Pistorius using his carbon-fibre running blades - ruling that there was no conclusive evidence that the prosthetics offered him any advantage over an able-bodied athlete.

It will be the first of two trips to London for Pistorius, who is also set to compete in the Paralympics later in the summer - becoming the first athlete ever to compete in both events in the same year.

"I am also hugely excited to then be competing to defend my three Paralympic titles at the Paralympic Games," he said. "I believe we will see some amazing times posted and I am very much looking forward to what will be an incredible Olympics and Paralympics in London."

Swimmer Natalie du Toit and table tennis player Natalia Partyka are the only other amputees to have previously competed in the Olympics.

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