'We're not running a fair race': Pistorius cries foul as the 'Blade Runner' suffers shock defeat


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The Independent Online

It was surely the greatest shock in Paralympic history – and the most controversial moment too. Oscar Pistorius, the "blade-runner" amputee sprinter who won over so many hearts when he competed at the Olympics a few weeks ago, darkened the mood of the Games last night by complaining by the blades used by Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira after he was beaten in the men's 200m T44 final.

Arguing that the International Paralympic Committee has not set sufficiently stringent regulations to stop athletes using longer prosthetics to give themselves longer strides, he said: "We are not running in a fair race here, absolutely ridiculous." For his part, Oliveira insisted – accurately – that he had run within the rules.

With the potential for the debate to also overspill in future races, Pistorius said: "We have spoken to the IPC about the length of these blades but it has fallen on deaf ears. Guys are coming from nowhere to run ridiculous times. I don't know how you pull that back, I run at 10 metres per second and I don't know how someone comes back from eight metres behind in the home straight. It's not right."

He added: "I'm not taking away from Alan's performance but I can't compete with Alan's stride length. The IPC have their regulations and their regulations mean that some athletes can make themselves unbelievable high ... his knee-heights are four inches higher than they should be."

It overshadowed what had been a great day for Great Britain's competitors. Following Pistorius's defeat, David Weir thrilled a packed Olympic Stadium by taking a stunning victory in the 5,000m T54, bringing ParalympicsGB's gold haul for the day to seven.

Earlier Welshman Aled Davies picked up gold in the discus. "Four years of hard work have gone into this," he said. "It's nice to give something back to everyone. I'm just so happy I performed."

At the same time Britain's long jump hope Stef Reid was putting in a gutsy performance in the F42/44 long jump. She broke a Paralympic record in her F44 category but came second overall when the results were adjusted to reflect the greater impairment of Australia's Kelly Cartwright.

There was a golden farewell to the Velodrome yesterday, as Great Britain's medal factory staged its final day of action. Anthony Kappes and pilot Craig MacLean won ParalympicsGB's fifth cycling gold in an all-Great Britain tandem sprint final against Neil Fachie and Barney Storey.

"It was brilliant, the atmosphere, and racing against Barney and Neil, it's pretty good," said Kappes.

At Eton Dorney there was joy and despair in equal measure. The mixed cox fours went into their final without a vital piece of equipment. Their electronic speed coach – which measures the stroke rate – had fallen into the water during the warm-ups. But it didn't matter, with the mixed-sex team of Pamela Relph, Naomi Riches, Dave Smith, James Roe and cox Lily van den Broecke powering through to the finish line regardless to take gold. "It's such a relief to know all the blood, sweat and tears you put in are worth it," said Riches after the race.

But it came more as a relief for the crowds, who earlier witnessed one of the biggest shocks of the games so far. Tom Aggar, one of Britain's brightest hopes for a gold medal and an undefeated single sculler for the past five years, failed to win a medal.

A new heroine was made in the pool last night as Jessica-Jane Applegate, making her debut at the Paralympics, won a sensational victory in the 200m freestyle S14 class. The 16-year-old swimmer from Norfolk, who has Asperger's syndrome, went into the race as the fastest qualifier but for the first 150m it looked like she might miss out on the medals altogether as she battled against a stiff challenge from her Australian and Dutch challengers.

There were also golds for the dressage team, with Lee Pearson securing his 10th Paralympic gold in the team event and Sophie Christiansen winning in the individual dressage 1a grade with her horse Janeiro6.