An equality test for the able-bodied

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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius tells a story of his time at boarding school in South Africa.

One night his fellow pupils hid his prosthetic legs and then poured lighter fluid over his metal bedside locker. They woke him with shouts of "fire, fire" and watched from behind the door as he scrambled in vain on the floor for his missing limbs.

Express surprise to him over his treatment by a group he describes as "friends" and his reply is certain – all he wants is to be treated as they would treat anyone. All he has ever wanted as a sportsman is to be treated equally. That is why when the IAAF, the governing body of world athletics, banned him from running in his trademark blades three years ago he took it to the world's highest sporting court – and won. Then he was still on the fringes of the world's best 400m runners but during the past few months he has improved dramatically. Able-bodied athletes claim they are relaxed about competing against him. The quicker he gets – he has shaved more than half a second off his best time this season – the quicker that attitude will change. It was not, he may like to note, until Caster Semenya, another remarkable South African athlete, became a world champion that definitive action was taken to address long-whispered questions over her gender.