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

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."

 



Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine