3 September 2012
Oscar Pistorius was beaten into second place in the men’s T43/T44 200 metres at the London Paralympics on Sunday night as Team South Africa upped its medals tally to 10, with swimmer Charl Bouwer adding a silver to the gold medal he won on Saturday.
Pistorius’ loss was his first over the distance in Paralympic competition.
Brazilian Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira came storming through from eight metres behind in the final 100 metres to take victory. Pistorius was second, Blake Leeper of the USA in third, and South Africa’s Arnu Fourie, a T43 (single leg amputee) athlete, fourth in a world record for the classification of 22.49 seconds.
Cardoso’s winning time was a regional record of 21.45 seconds, but slower than Pistorius’ world record he ran in the heats of 21.30. This time around, the South African star clocked 21.52.
Prosthetic limb lengths
Afterwards, Pistorius, who was caught in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation” when he voiced his concerns about the length of some of the prosthetic limbs used by other athletes, told reporters he had met with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in the weeks leading up to the Paralympics to discuss the issue.
To the South African’s credit, he brought up the issue after the semi-finals too.
The length of the blades Oliviera and Leeper used would not have been allowed in Olympic competition, but they are allowed in the Paralympics.
“Not taking away from Alan’s performance – he’s a great athlete – but these guys are a lot taller and you can’t compete [with the] stride length,” Pistorius said in a broadcast interview.
‘We aren’t running a fair race’
“You saw how far he came back. We aren’t racing a fair race. I gave it my best.
“The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) have their regulations. The regulations (allow) that athletes can make themselves unbelievably high.”
An IPC official said the organisation met with Pistorius after the race and will meet with him again at a later date to discuss his concerns.
A year ago, Pistorius said, Oliviera was running times in the high 23 seconds.
Hilton Langenhoven, the winner of three gold medals in the Beijing Paralympics, qualified for the semi-finals of the men’s 400 metres in the T12 class by winning his heat in 49.86 seconds. He was the only man to break the 50 second barrier in the four heats.
Charl Bouwer added a silver medal in the 100m freestyle to the gold he previously won in the 50m freestyle S13 class.
Ihar Boki of Belarus, who has emerged as one of the leading stars in the pool with two world records for gold medals and a silver medal, took victory in a world record time of 51.91 seconds.
Bouwer finished second in an African record of 52.97 and Russia’s Aleksandr Golintovskii was third in 53.45.
‘I’m really happy’
“I went out too slowly and if I’d just gone out half a second faster, I would have had the gold, because I came back really strongly,” said Bouwer when interviewed after his swim. “These things happen and I got a silver medal, so I’m really happy.”
The South African men’s wheelchair basketball team suffered a fourth defeat in Group A, going down 32-61 to Italy. They face Turkey in their final group fixture on Monday.
At Eton Dornay, Sandra Khumalo placed second in the B Final of the women’s singles sculls ASW1x.
By the end of competition on Sunday, South Africa was in 19th place in the medal standings with two gold, four silver, and four bronze medals for a total haul of 10 medals.
China remains a convincing leader at the top of the table with 35 gold, 24 silver and 28 bronze medals for a total of 87 medals in all.
Great Britain (16, 24, 14, 54) remain in second place and Australia are in third (14, 11, 18, 43).
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