Oscar Pistorious is a South African sprinter hoping to compete in the Beijing Olympics. His nickname is the “Blade Runner” because of the shape of his legs. Actually, he has no feet at all and has been dubbed “the fasted thing on no legs”. Pistorious’ legs were amputated below the knees as a baby (he was born without fibula bones in his legs) and he wears artificial limbs. He calls these his cheetah blades, made by Össur, who are supporting him in his bid. He has broken the 100m, 200m, and 400m records repeatedly in Paralympic grades and his eyes are now set on competing with the fastest able-bodied athletes in the world in Beijing in the summer. However, there’s a snag. The International Association of Athletics Federations have ruled that his cheetah blades give him an unfair advantage against able-bodied athletes and in January banned him from competing in the Olympics. He has a chance to appeal this decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the end of April. If his appeal is successful I wouldn’t bet on him winning medals in Beijing (his best 400m time is still more than three seconds off the world record, and almost a second behind Olympic qualifying time) but that’s not what the Olympics are about. Even so, he’s only been running competitively since 2004, and he’s improving at a phenomenal rate, constantly breaking his own world records. I’d expect him to break more personal records in Beijing but the more interesting question might be what could happen between now and the London Olympics in 2012.

(Wired magazine ran a great article on Pistorious here.)