• London Paralympics 2012

Pistorius fumes after Oliveira snatches 200m title

ESPN staff
September 2, 2012
Oscar Pistorius complained over the length of blades used by Alan Oliveira after losing in the 200m final © PA Photos

Oscar Pistorius expressed his frustration at the length of the blades used by Alan Oliveira after the Brazilian snatched the men's T44 200m title at the Paralympic Games on Sunday.

Pistorius was attempting to defend his 100m, 200m and 400m titles in London during a year in which he became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, making the 400m semi-finals.

His qualifying effort on Saturday had created a buzz around the stadium after the South African ran a new world record time of 21.30s. But in the final Oliveira staged an eye-opening comeback down the straight to beat the favourite in a time of 21.45s.

Dubbed 'Blade Runner' due to the fact he wears carbon fibre prosthetic blades after he was born without a fibula in both legs, Pistorius has often had the accusation thrown his way that his blades may give him an unfair advantage.

However, it is now he who has a complaint over the length of blades used by Oliveira, which are significantly longer than those used by Pistorius. The South African labelled Oliveira's comeback "ridiculous", and explained that concerns expressed prior to the Games fell on deaf ears.

"This is a really strong race of mine, and as I said in the mixed zone, the size of some of the other guys' legs are unbelievably long," Pistorius told Channel 4. "Not taking anything away from Alan, he's a great athlete, but the guys who do the measuring in the courtrooms, some of these guys are a lot taller and you can't compete for stride length.

"There is definitely something up with the length of the prosthetic legs. Alan was shorter than me but now he's taller. The same with Blake Leeper. It's a problem because the rules allow the guys to make themselves a lot longer - longer than what they would have been [had they not been double amputees].

"We're not racing a fair race. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have the regulations, but the regulations allow the athletes to make themselves unbelievably high. We tried to address the issue in the weeks leading up to this, but it fell on deaf ears.

"The guys are running ridiculous times. Alan is a great athlete, but I run just over 10 metres per second, so I don't know how you can come back from eight metres behind after 100m to win. It's ridiculous."

Pistorius was clear of danger coming out of the bend, but that was when Oliveira stepped on the gas, opening into his stride in a manner akin to Usain Bolt. Seemingly under pressure, Pistorius slowed over the final 50m as he crossed the line in second.

The length of a sprinter's stride, particularly in the case of Bolt, can be a chief factor when it comes to speed, and that is the source of Pistorius' complaint. Current regulations are meant to ensure athletes' blades do not exaggerate their height, something the South African clearly feels has left room for exploitation.

Oliveira, though, defended his thrilling win, saying: "The length of my blades is all right, I went through all the procedures with the referees. Once I come inside the track it's because it's all been cleared up and I believe Pistorius also knows that.

"Since the first time I put them on they've been following the IPC rules and I've been using them already for a whole month, just the same blades."

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