Pistorius: I'm as proud to be a Paralympian as an Olympian
On eve of Games, South African hails hosts' attitude and says London can change perceptions on disability
Wednesday 29 August 2012
On the eve of the London Paralympics, Oscar Pistorius has praised the host nation's attitude towards disability and believes the world will have to watch the Games through "Britain's eyes", a vision that can help instigate a global shift in attitudes not only to Paralympic sport but also disabled people in general.
Pistorius, the world's most recognisable Paralympian who also made his Olympic debut in London, yesterday outlined his experience of the development of the Games since he first ran in them eight years ago and suggested London will be a new high in the history of the Paralympic movement.
"There is still a long way to go but the UK is at the forefront when it comes to education surrounding disability and that is the only way to get over the stigmas and the feeling it is a taboo subject," the South African said.
"It is not about disability, it is about the ability of the athlete. Yes there are people living with disabilities all around us, more and more every year, but it is not something we need to be ashamed of, or need to be scared of asking questions about – that is the only way you learn. And I believe this Paralympic Games is going to set many people's perceptions not just about Paralympic sport but about other people living with disabilities, it is going to completely change people's mindsets. I am just so excited to see the impact this will leave around the world.
"I travel extensively and see people's perceptions in different countries when it comes to disability. The UK is a country which I have noticed has dealt with disability in a really amazing way. They haven't thought of it as a problem, they have seen it more as a challenge to change people's perceptions. There are a lot of people that are going to watch these Games around the world that are going to be forced in a way to see these Paralympics through the eyes of the people of the UK. And I think that is a great thing. You see the profile of Paralympic athletes being higher than ever, they are becoming household names now."
Pistorius ran in the 400m and the 400m relay in the Olympics, running in the final of the latter. In the Paralympics he will compete in four events, the 100m, 100m relay, 200m and the 400m, and insists they are just as important to him as the Olympics. "I am as proud to be a Paralympian as I am to be an Olympian," he said.
He tries to take an active role in educating children curious about his prosthetic legs to help take away any stigmatism attached to disability.
"I will go up to a child and I will say: 'Hi, my name's Oscar and these are my cool prosthetic legs and I've got these because they got bitten off by a shark'. I will make up a cool story.
"I always joke and if the mother's beautiful I tell the kid it's because I didn't eat my vegetables, then I get a good thumbs-up.
"I don't have anything in life I'm not able to do. I don't focus on my disability, I focus on my ability and next time that kid sees somebody with a prosthetic leg they won't think any different of them."
Paul Scholes: Emirates was the easy option for Mesut Ozil. He needs a leader - and Arsenal don't have them
Ronaldinho dream XI: John Terry, Frank Lampard and Claude Makelele are in as former Barcelona superstar names ideal side
UFC champion Ronda Rousey leaves presenter with broken ribs after he claims 'she can't compete with a man'
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo shows off his dance moves, including the moonwalk
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 2 Kate Moss: Previously unpublished nude photo revealed by Mert and Marcus
- 4 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 5 Bad Jews poster 'censored' on London Tube
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'