Fairytale ends for Oscar Pistorius but he has secured a place in Olympic history

The 25-year-old South African lifted the profile and aspirations of disabled sportsmen

His personal fairytale ended tonight when he failed to qualify for the 400m final, but for disabled people worldwide the historic performance of Oscar Pistorius has redefined the possible.

The 25-year-old South African dubbed “blade runner, came last in his semi-final heat with a time of 46.54. But despite his not making the final, what he has achieved in terms of lifting the profile and aspirations of disabled sportsmen is enough to secure him a place in Olympic history.

Julie Morley, director of community services at Disability Trust, which supports people with physical disabilities, autism and brain injuries in the UK, believes the image of Pistorius competing in carbon-fibre blades next to able bodied athletes will help normalise physical disability.

“It is tremendously helpful for people with physical disability who struggle with the everyday things normal people take for granted. It gives them something to aspire to, to say ‘if he can do it I can’,” she said. “But just as important is the perception of able bodied people. People think ‘oh they can’t do that physically disabled people need to be protected, but sometimes they don’t.

“I think [Pistorius] has made that acceptable. He has opened people to the dignity of risk, giving them that, rather than saying ‘they can’t do that’.”

For Pistorius, his Olympic appearance was the culmination of years of fighting.

The South African had his lower legs amputated at 11 months old after being born without a fibula in either leg.

After competing Paralympics he appeared to be coming close to his Olympic dream after winning a legal battle over his carbon fibre blades with sporting body IAAF in 2008 - after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling they did not give him an unfair advantage.

But it seemed he would miss out on London 2012 after failing to meet South Africa’s qualification criteria – despite him running two Olympic qualifying times over the past 12 months. South African officials finally relented, setting him free to run but again igniting the debate about whether the blades give him an advantage.

World record holder Michael Johnson was among those raising concerns, which , temporarily at least, were left aside when Pistorius blasted out of the blocks in his opening appearance at the first heat on Saturday. He described the noise from the crowd as “mind-blowing”.

Grenada’s Kirani James, the 19-year-old world champion who was up against him in his first round run, summed up how Pistorius could change perceptions. “He is out here making history and we should all respect that and admire that,” he said.

“I just see him as another athlete, as another competitor but most importantly as a human being, another person.

“I have a lot of respect for the guy and for what he does.”

Whatever he does next the debate over his place at the Olympics, and the categorisation of the disabled people in sport in general, will follow him but so will his success as a role model for fellow amputees.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
The video, titled 'A Message to America', was released a day after Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has overrun large parts of Iraq, threatened to attack Americans 'in any place'. U.S. officials said they were working to determine the video's authenticity
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape