Daraine Mulvihill: Let's all hope Oscar Pistorius has saved his best for last


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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius is a trailblazer in the world of Paralympics athletics, but tonight is his last chance for glory in an individual event at London 2012. Luckily it's his best race – the 400m.

On paper, Oscar is the quickest by far. But then who would have thought coming into the Games that he would have been beaten twice? It would be a shame to see him go home without an individual gold medal, as he's so gracious, so helpful with the younger athletes on the starting line, and such a role model for other Paralympians. He's one of the main reasons people now take Paralympic sports so seriously.

But because he concentrated so fully on qualifying for the Olympics in the 400m, he took his eyes off the prize in the other disciplines. Team GB's Jonnie Peacock beat him easily in the 100m, and Alan Oliveira snatched the gold in the 200m.

Some suggest that blades give athletes an advantage, but as someone who has tried running on them I can tell you it's incredibly difficult. Before I lost my legs to meningitis at the age of 16, I was a competitive runner, and blades in their current form are nowhere near as effective as a human leg, and very painful. Most blade athletes do most of their training in prosthetic legs, and save the blades for the track. You often see the athletes fall over as they cross the line, such is the effort required to run in the blades.

Yet despite that, there has been a revolution in blade running. That owes a lot to Oscar. This hasn't been the Games he would have hoped for, but his achievements have inspired a whole generation of sprinters to go for Paralympic – and Olympic – gold.

The level of sprinting has gone up so dramatically between Beijing and London that you have to wonder what will be achieved in Rio in 2016. Peacock has already said that he has run a 10.6 over 100m in training, and that mark will only get quicker.

Daraine Mulvihill is a presenter for Channel 4's Paralympics coverage