Pistorius eyes 45s barrier in Olympics bow

Oscar Pistorius said Wednesday he is targeting breaking the 45-second barrier in the 400m as he prepares to become the first double amputee athlete to compete in the able-bodied Olympics.

The South African, known as 'Blade Runner' because he runs with carbon fibre prosthetic running blades, competed in the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Paralympics.

But the 25-year-old can now make his debut in the Olympics following studies that found his prosthetics give him no advantage over his able-bodied rivals.

His personal best is 45.07sec in the 400m and Pistorius wants to smash the 45-second barrier when he takes his place on the London 2012 track.

"I'd love to. I'm in good shape. I feel very strong. I've had a good season," he said.

"I'm really hoping to at least make the semi-final and if I can run a personal best, I'd be really, really happy.

"Hopefully this can be the highlight of my career.

"When I found out I had made the team, a certain pressure left and another pressure came in.

"It hits you when you're standing on the starting blocks. At Athens and Beijing, that's when it really dawned upon me.

"If I can imagine the excitement that I've had over the last couple of weeks, I can't imagine what it's going to be like when I'm finally out there on the track."

Pistorius is set to compete in both the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

He is clear to compete on condition he uses the same prosthetic legs that have been used in Paralympic sport since 1996.

He said exhaustive tests had proved that running on blades gave him no advantage.

"If I had to listen to the five percent of negativity, I wouldn't be here," he said. "If I have such an advantage, why isn't everybody else running the same times?

"Any improvements since I've started have not been from any aid or any changes made. They've been through hard training and a lot of sacrifice," Pistorius said.

"One day they will be able to make a prosthetic leg -- if not already -- that could give an advantage.

"In my heart, I know what's right and I wouldn't be running if I had any doubt."

Pistorius has throughout his life competed in able-bodied sports.

"I grew up not really thinking I had a disability; I grew up thinking I had different shoes," he said.

In the 4x400m relay -- where South Africa finished second in the 2011 world championships -- Pistorius said he thought the second or third leg would be his best as he is a comparatively slow starter with his blades.

"On a running start, I'll probably be more use to the team," he said.

Pistorius -- 13 kilogrammes lighter than he was in Beijing -- said he had no worries about competing in both the Olympics and the Paralympics, where his 89-year-old grandmother will be coming to watch him.

Pistorius said fame was "the one thing that I haven't enjoyed much".

He said receiving letters from children around the world was great but otherwise it had "never been something I cared much about".

"Fame isn't going to make me faster," Pistorius explained.

 

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