2. Pistorius Competes at the World Champs

A double amputee runs one of the year’s fastest 400s

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius     Photo: Harry Borden

Depending on your perspective, Oscar Pistorius’s 2011 track campaign was either one of running’s most heartwarming or most pernicious stories. In June, Pistorius, a double amputee who runs on carbon-fiber prostheses, ran 45.07 seconds for 400 meters.

That time qualified him to race at the Daegu world championships and reignited a debate over whether his carbon-fiber legs give him an unfair advantage or should inspire disabled athletes worldwide. Outside editor Chris Keyes would later call Pistorius “amazing,” while Science of Sport bloggers Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas gave him a nomination as 2011’s “villain of the year.”

Pistorius credibly reached the individual 400-meter semi-finals, but his world championships appearance was marred by an IAAF decision that restricted him from running any leg but the first on South Africa’s 4-by-400-meter relay. A slow starter, South Africa’s coaches didn’t want him on the first leg, and he was forced to watch from the sidelines as his team won silver behind the United States.

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