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Thursday, September 8, 2011
Oscar Pistorius not distracted by critics

By Associated Press

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius gives a running demonstration at Trafalgar Square as part of the International Paralympic Day celebrations.


LONDON -- Despite his trailblazing success at the world championships, Oscar Pistorius knows he still hasn't convinced everyone he belongs on the track next to able-bodied runners.

However, the double-amputee sprinter said he will not be distracted from his goal of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

"I feel very at ease with myself," the South African said Wednesday. "For every five percent of people that criticize me, 95 percent of people support me. ... I'll always have my critics. I've done everything in my power to prove I don't have any advantage."

And with 10 months to qualify for the 400 meters at the London Games, Pistorius does not want to exhaust his energy by constantly defending himself.

"My job is not to get into a debate about this every day," Pistorius said during a visit to London. "My job is to train. I'm an athlete, a sprinter, I have got to make sacrifices."

The 24-year-old Pistorius fought a lengthy battle with the IAAF for the right to compete in able-bodied events with carbon fiber blades, which some argue give him an unfair advantage. His ban was overturned in time to run at the Beijing Olympics, but Pistorius failed to qualify and instead won three gold medals at the Paralympics in the 100, 200 and 400.

Nicknamed the "Blade Runner," he made history by competing in the recent world championships in Daegu, South Korea. He returned with a team silver medal -- although he didn't earn it in the way he had hoped.

Although he ran the first leg of the 4x400-meter relay to help the team qualify for the final in South Korea last week, South African officials didn't select him to run in the medal event. South Africa finished second behind the United States.

And Pistorius is still fighting to convince the IAAF that he can safely run any leg of a relay. The international track federation insisted he run the first leg of the preliminary relay because it was concerned his blades would hit other runners. Athletes can run outside their lanes after the first leg.

"I have run all legs of various relays without any incidents," Pistorius said. "If we have a training session we have to run in the same lane and I have never ever had an incident.

"We complied with their request, although in the future I think we are going to have to demonstrate that I have run many relays in the past [without incident]. If I need to run any other leg to make us the strongest team possible, then there is no reason why I shouldn't do that."

But to have any chance of running the relay at the London Olympics, he first has to qualify for the South African team. That requires a tricky balancing act to make sure he can run a fast enough time early in the year and still be able to peak in time for the Olympics.

"That's really difficult to do as an athlete," he said. "We usually peak for two or three months a year. You don't want to cut it too fine in June either."