Nearly every one of his able-bodied peers supported him when asked after their 400-meter heats Saturday whether they thought Pistorius should run.
They essentially gave up their Olympic moment in order to answer questions about what it’s like to compete against a man with prosthetics for legs.
“It’s really tough for me to say a guy with no legs has an advantage in track and field,” said Luguelin Santos, the Dominican 400-meter runner in the lane beside Pistorius. “I know that if anything, I know it’s important to him to find out if it’s an advantage. This is a sport where they ban people for two years for taking the wrong sleeping pill.”
Santos added: “It’s just incredibly hard for me or anyone to root against him. I mean, I think he should be able to compete unless somebody finds some conclusive evidence otherwise.”
It probably helps that Pistorius is not a medal threat. His 45.44 second time in his heat, his second-best time this year, could put him in Lane 1 or 8 of the 400-meter final but is not elite enough to begin threatening livelihoods.
If Pistorius were gold-medal good, the debate would become more inflamed. But at least his competitors fully understood the significance of a man overcoming astonishing odds to run in his own lane at an Olympics.
A baby born without bones in his lower legs is now among the fastest men to run the oval in the world!
Oscar Pistorius grew up with his mother never treating him differently, who told one son to put his shoes on before school and the other to put his prosthetics on. “In my world, I just looked at my prosthetics as my shoes,” Pistorius said.
When he runs Sunday, stop and take it in as a human being, without having to to dwell on the how and why. For at least one day, let’s start commemorating and stop calibrating.
For previous Mike Wise columns, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.