Is disabled runner too able?

Last Friday night, Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee athlete who runs using carbon-fibre transtibial artificial limbs, became the first disabled athlete to compete officially in an able-bodied race, taking on club runners in the 400m at the Golden Gala in Rome and finishing an impressive second place.

Pistorius was given permission to compete with regular athletes in June this year, and ultimately hopes to compete at either the Beijing or the London Olympics.

However, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has serious concerns that his artificial legs might actually give him an unfair advantage. The federation has been using various cameras to study Pistorius' running motion and want to get him into the lab for further analysis.

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 he simply needs more energy to start running.

It seems unlikely they'll let him to run in the Olympics. But he's clearly an extraordinary athlete and it would be fascinating to see him test himself against the very best in the world.

Video & Source: New Scientist
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