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Ken Borland

IAAF won’t dictate where Oscar runs – Team SA

Posted on July 11, 2012 by Ken

Team South Africa will not be seeking any ruling from the International Amateur Athletics Federation over which legs of the 4x400m relay double-amputee Oscar Pistorius may run at the London Olympics, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam said on Wednesday.
Pistorius, who wears carbon fibre blades and was cleared to compete against able-bodied athletes by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2008, was named in South Africa’s 4x400m relay team last week. There were subsequent reports that the IAAF would not allow Pistorius to run in anything but the first leg of the relay due to concerns over the safety of the other athletes because of his prosthetics.
Sam told Reuters on Wednesday that it would be up to the relay team and coaching staff to decide where Pistorius runs.
“We won’t give in to any outside interference over where Oscar is allowed to run, that would amout to discrimination. The debate over whether he gets an advantage from his blades is over and, like any relay team, be it athletics or swimming, it is now up to the team to decide where he runs,” Sam said.
Pistorius, who failed to meet Sascoc’s stringent qualification criteria for the individual 400m, was named in the 4x400m relay team because he was a member of the team that won silver in the 2011 World Championships and is South Africa’s fastest runner over that distance this year.
“The team ran the qualifying time twice when they won silver in Daegu and Oscar was a part of that team. They are ranked second in the world at the moment, so we are very confident that Oscar must be there at the Olympics.
“Oscar ran a qualifying time in South Africa and has worked very hard in running all over the world, so there’s no reason not to include him,” Sam said.
Sascoc’s qualifying criteria stated that an athlete must run a qualifying time both locally and abroad this year, but Pistorius only reached the 45.30 second threshold once on South African soil. But because he is going to the Olympics anyway as a member of the relay team, he will be allowed to participate in the individual 400m as well.
While Sam denied there had been any pressure from the International Olympic Committee for Pistorius’s historic inclusion in the South African team, the deputy minister of sport, Gert Oosthuizen, confirmed that government had backed the 25-year-old’s selection.
“As part of our drive to normalise society, we want to mainstream disabled people, that is the declared policy of government. We always want them to be able to showcase what they can do and to destigmatise them,” Oosthuizen told Reuters on Wednesday.
Sam also announced on Wednesday that Sascoc would pay incentives to all South African medal-winners at the Olympics.
Gold medals will bring a reward of R400 000 [40 000 euro], silver R200 000 [20 000 euro] and bronze R80 000 [8000 euro].

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