Inside Lines: Blade runner deserves Oscar but has no place in Olympics
Sunday 28 August 2011
Am I alone in being less than comfortable about the presence of Oscar Pistorius in the current world athletics championships – even less so should the Blade Runner qualify for London's Olympics?
Apparently not. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, doyenne of Paralympians, says that South African risks undermining the equality that the Paralympic movement has worked to achieve. "If Oscar makes the Olympics then his event shouldn't be run at the Paralympics because the Paralympics should never be a 'B' final. Everything we've wortked for would be knocked back."
She also fears that the Paralympics subsequently might become an afterthought. "We have to put things in perspective and not let this become the Oscar show." Quite.
Pistorius was due to run the first leg of the 4 x 400m in Daegu early today on his carbon-fibre "Cheetah" feet in the lanes-restricted first leg so as "not to endanger" other runners, an historic moment but a questionable one.
Roger Black is one ex-athlete to express 'deep, doubts' but others know theirs would not be a popular view to express publicly in these politically correct times. There is no doubt that Pistorius deserves every accolade going for his incredible triumph of will but his proper place surely is the Paralympics.
He needed a court ruling to compete against able-bodied athletes but would the sport be so accommodating if he was a long jumper, high jumper or triple jumper, where those custom-built prosthetic blades surely would give him an unfair advantage with their bounce – as eventually, with technological advances, they may well do on the track. Think about it.
Quadfather serves an ace
With exactly a year to go to their own Games, Britain's Paralympians, like their-bodied counterparts, seem to be hitting form, not least the remarkable 50-year-old Peter Norfolk, otherwise known as The Quadfather.
He's something the nation has not seen in a lifetime, a world's' No 1 tennis player. OK, it's the wheelchair version but the achievement is exceptional. He is also a double Olympic gold medallist in the quad singles (Athens and Beijing) and has his sights firmly set on London where his will be one of many uplifting stories.
Norfolk was left a paraplegic after a motorbike accident at 19 butsays "a lightbulb went off in my head" when he saw a demonstration of wheelchair tennis at Stoke Mandeville. Subsequently, supported by the Tennis Foundation ( tennisfoundation.org.uk) he has won Olympic, Australian and US Open titles with a racket strapped to his right hand, serving at up to 80mph.
He heads for the US Open again this weekend, a qualifying event for 2012, where the quad tennis will be played at Eton Manor. Shame it isn't Wimbledon.
One of my fondest personal recollections of the great cornerman Angelo Dundee, 90 on Tuesday, who we interview today, was back in 1972 when a few of us flew to Dublin to interview Muhammad Ali before his fight with Al "Blue" Lewis. The plane was delayed and we missed the press conference.
Dundee greeted us at the hotel to say that Ali was suffering from flu and had gone to bed. "Oh Angie, we only wanted to speak with him for 10 minutes," I pleaded. "No chance," retorted Dundee. "He never speaks to anyone for less than an hour." He phoned Ali's room. "The champ says go on up."
Ali was in bed attended by his doctor and flicking through cheque stubs which he showed us to indicate the vast amounts he was paying in alimony. We emerged an hour and a half later, notebooks bulging. Happy days.
Groves transfer a coup
Barry Hearn doesn't lose many battles but he has been curiously beaten to the punch by rival boxing promoter Frank Warren.
Hearn's Matchroom were expected to announce the acquisition of George Groves, conqueror of James DeGale, last week but instead David Haye's stablemate has joined Warren, a transfer that has stunned the sport.
As Groves is part of the US Golden Boy set-up, could this be a prelude to Warren renewing his severed relationship with Amir Khan in a major fight here next year? Don't bet against it.
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