Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blade Runner

When the amputee is barred from the Olympics because his prosthetic legs give him an advantage . . . then you know how wonderful technology is." -- Ann Althouse

Artificial legs give Pistorious an unfair advantage?

The IAAF ruled Monday that double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is ineligible to compete in the Beijing Olympics because his prosthetic racing blades give him a clear competitive advantage.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had twice postponed the ruling, but the executive council said the South African runner's curved, prosthetic "Cheetah" blades were considered a technical aid in violation of the rules.

"As a result, Oscar Pistorius is ineligible to compete in competitions organized under IAAF Rules," the IAAF said in a statement.

Pistorius, known as the "blade runner," announced last week that he would appeal any adverse decision, including taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"The natural feeling from our side would be to appeal the verdict and see what avenues we can take forward," Pistorius' agent, Peet van Zyl, told the BBC after Monday's verdict. "Oscar wants to prove that he isn't getting an advantage."

Read much more about this amazing athlete in this article in the New York Times.

Interestingly, he runs faster in the second half of his races than the first as you can see in this video:

An important point is that Pistorius runs the second half of his races faster than the first - something that is very rare of among regular athletes. Perhaps his prosthetic limbs allow him to build up enough momentum during the first half of the race to conserve energy for the second half. Pistorius and his coaching team claim that say he simply needs more energy to start running. You can judge for yourself from the video below.

Incredible. An impressive mix of high-tech wonder and triumph of the human spirit.

Did I ever mention I love technology?

(HT Russ Roberts)


Sunny said...

Man, your site is 10x better than mine. Top notch post, and it inspires me to improve. I post at

I got my bachelors from GMU in 2007 and am working professionally right now, but I'm working on progressing to Ph.D.

Keep up the great posts!

Brian Hollar said...

Thanks, Sunny! I just checked out your blog and enjoy it. I loved the "Let Freedom Ring" video you have posted and just posted it myself.

Good luck with your endeavors towards the Ph.D.!