As far as Olympic track runners go, Oscar Pistorius is pretty good at what he does: Since his first track meet at 17, he’s won four gold medals and holds three world records. It’s no wonder, then, that Pistorius – a double-amputee – has earned the nickname “the fastest man with no legs.”
And now, he is the first Paralympian to compete in an able-bodied Olympic track event.
Despite losing both limbs to a bone disorder when he was 11 months old, Pistorius, now 25, demonstrated a love for sports at an early age. Wearing specially designed carbon-fiber limbs, the Johannesburg, South Africa, native found that he was able to compete in sports like water polo and track with surprising success.
Then came his first Paralympics. At the 2004 Athens games, he won a gold and set a world record in the 200m sprint. Since that landmark moment, he’s garnered three more gold medals and two more world records at Paralympic events.
Bolstered by that success, Pistorius set his eyes on a new goal: competing at the able-bodied Olympics. “I was starting to run times which allowed me to compete internationally on the able-bodied circuit,” he told CNN.
Although performing well at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu (he helped his 4x400m relay win a silver medal), Pistorius was unsure of whether he would make the 2012 London team – having twice failed to make the standard Olympic qualifying time in the 400m sprint. His latest attempt fell short by only two tenths of a second.
But after deciding to let those two tenths of a second go, the South African Olympic committee has selected Pistorius to join the South African team at the London Summer Games.
“Today is truly one of the proudest days of my life,” Pistorius writes on his website. “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 honor and I am so pleased that years of hard work, determination and sacrifice have all come together.”