SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

5 August 2012

South Africa: Oscar Stars in London Olympics 400 Metres

Photo: BackpagePix
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius made history when he joined the men's 400m heats as the first amputee to take part in an Olympics track event.

There were 25 gold medals up for grabs on "Super Saturday" at the London Olympic Games, and while British athletes gave the home support what they wanted, delivering three gold medals, South Africa's Oscar Pistorius delighted people with his qualification for the semi-finals of the 400 metres.

"The Blade Runner", a double-amputee who was born without the fibulas in both legs (the bones found between the knee and ankle), went off in the first of the seven heats.

He was a long way out of the running early on, but pulled his way back into the reckoning with a strong third 100 metres, which allowed him to ease up near the end, certain of advancing as one of two automatic qualifiers from the heat.

Best time of the season

Even then, Pistorius recorded his best time of this season, a very respectable 45.44 seconds, with Luguelin Santos, the world junior champion, winning in 45.04.

After his race, the 25-year-old South African, was swamped by reporters seeking a quick word about his becoming the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics' athletics competition, never mind the fact that he had made the semi-finals.

"I was so nervous this morning. Thanks to everyone for showing their support. I didn't know whether to cry. I had a mixture of emotions," said Pistorius.

'The most amazing experience'

"It was the most amazing experience, the crowd was amazing. I saw the South African flag. Just the experience of being here is a dream come true."

Later, he wrote on Twitter: "Thank you to everyone who has supported me. That was UNBELIEVABLE! Was so amazing to feel the energy from the crowd! Semi-final tomorrow! :)"

Then, before turning in for the evening, he shared a last message: "That was simply one of the most amazing and special days of my life! Thank you for sharing in it with me! Till tomorrow's Semi-Final."

Long jump

Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist Khotso Mokoena made it to the final of the long jump competition by leaping 8.02 metres in qualifying, but he was far from his best in the final on Saturday evening.

Mokoena registered only two legal jumps in his six attempts, with the better of his two efforts being a first round jump of 7.93 metres. In round three, his mark was just 7.62m.

British athlete Greg Rutherford delivered in front of his home support, capturing gold with a distance of 8.31 metres. Australia's Mitchell Watt placed second and the USA's Will Claye third.

Hockey

The South African women's hockey teams suffered its third defeat in as many games, going down 1-0 to Australia. Previously they lost to world number two Argentina and world number three Germany.

Jade Close scored the decisive goal early in the match, beating goalkeeper Mariette Rix in the seventh minute.

Marsha Marescia and company then took the game to the Aussies and created a good number of chances - more than the Australians managed - without finding the necessary finishes.

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InFocus

Blade Runner Makes Olympic History

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius made history when he joined the men's 400m heats as the first amputee to take part in an Olympics track event.

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius has made history by becoming the first amputee to compete in an Olympics track event. Read more »