Sport on TV: Pistorius pursued by prejudice, Harmison chased by demons

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Oscar Pistorius is indeed an extraordinary person, as "The Fastest Man On No Legs" (Five, Wednesday) proclaimed. As an infant, he had both feet amputated at the ankle. Now the International Association of Athletics Federations are running scared of him running away with a sprint medal at the Olympics – with the aid of his state-of-the-art carbon fibre limbs.

The 21-year-old South African has kept up a great sense of humour through all his trials. "I've never twisted an ankle or stubbed a toe," he points out. His mother died six weeks after he was sent to boarding school aged 15, and when he revisited Pretoria Boys High, he joked about how his mates once hid his prosthetic legs while he slept and set his bed on fire with lighter fuel. Good old public school character-building. The boys tittered nervously in his old dormitory.

His J-shaped "blades" underwent scientific tests in Cologne last year after the world governing body queried why he is the first ever runner to pick up speed as a race goes on. "It's like being sexist or racist, saying we don't want these people in sport," said Oscar, now unable to raise a smile. The tests went against him, and he is not allowed to race in Beijing.

"Cristiano Ronaldo: The Story So Far" (ITV4, Wednesday) followed the Pistorius programme and was about a remarkable athlete, too, but one whose only struggle is to stay on his feet. According to his mum, "He used to cry when he passed the ball and his friends wouldn't score". She should have sent him to boarding school, that would have sorted the little red devil out. But at least he has his Nani at Old Trafford.



The first 339 overs of the Hamilton Test were close to the nadir of sport. Stephen Fleming crouched at slip for 1,000 balls before he took a catch. The umpires had to wait until the fourth day before they could give anyone out. The greatest excitement was going on in the commentary box.

David Lloyd revealed that in "weaker moments" he likes to put on high heels. Martin Crowe, who invented Twenty20 for Sky a decade ago (his long-forgotten Cricket Max had two innings of 10 overs each and 12s instead of straight sixes), made an absurd defence of ball-tampering with a bottle top during a Pakistan campaign under his command.

Amid the sapping tedium there was a lip-quiveringly sad interview with Steve Harmison about the rigours of touring. Sir Ian Botham piped up that it was like "British servicemen overseas". David Gower had to step in and say "You can't do that". It was all starting to sound like a desperate outpost of the empire.

The Kiwis' chief vowel-mangler Ian Smith whined: "What more is there to say? We've used up a whole series-worth of anecdotes." In the Land of the Long White Cloud, we all drifted off. Then someone must have brought out the bottle tops. All hell broke loose.

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