Pistorius primed to make history

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The Independent Online

It was early in 2007 that Tom Hanks declared an interest in acquiring the film rights to Oscar Pistorius' life story.

Since then, Pistorius' quest to appear on the big stage of an able-bodied major championship has seemed like a Forrest Gump saga but, at around 3.15am British time tomorrow, the South African amputee will finally get to line up against the world's best 400m runners in the heats at the World Championships in Daegu.

The 24-year-old does so with controversy still raging in some quarters about whether or not he gains an unfair advantage from the carbon-fibre blades he uses. "There have been a couple of people that have been ill-formed commenting about it," said Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below the knee when he was aged 11 months. "Scientists and industry leaders agree there is no net advantage from the prosthetic legs.

"I have had to go through a lot of tests to prove that I don't have an advantage. I really do believe in the purity of sport or I wouldn't be here. For me, it was an important thing to make sure I don't have an advantage. Integrity of the sport comes first and foremost."

In 2007, the International Association of Athletics Federations introduced a rule banning the use of "any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device". However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overruled the world governing body of track and field, allowing Pistorius to compete in mainstream events.

Yesterday, at a packed press conference in Daegu, Michael Johnson, the 400m world record holder, gave his public backing to the young man from Pretoria. "I've been clear about my position from the very beginning,"Johnson said. "I'm supportive of Oscar because the rules state that he cancompete."

At the same time, the IAAF announced that Pistorius can compete in the 4 x 400m relay in Daegu, but only if he runs the first leg for South Africa. "This person is a particular case," IAAF president Lamine Diack said. "Wedecided to let him take part in the World Championships and we will see what the result will be. The only thing we said to the South African federation is that if he wants to run in the relay he must run the first leg to avoid danger to other athletes."

Pick Of Weekend Action

Today, 12.05pm, (all Channel 4)

Olympic champion and former world champion Christine Ohuruogu goes in the women's 400m heats.

Today, 1.45pm

Usain Bolt, Dwain Chambers and Marlon Devonish compete in the men's 100m heats. Justin Gatlin returns after a doping ban.

Tomorrow, 3.15am

Oscar Pistorius – the first amputee athlete to participate in the World Championships – goes in the men's 400m heats.

Tomorrow, 11.30am

Mo Farah takes on the unbeaten Kenenisa Bekele in the men's 10,000m final.

Tomorrow, 12.45pm

Usain Bolt is once again the odds-on favourite to win gold in the men's 100m final, but there are several Brits looking to grab a medal.