Pistorious is rather well known these days, especially after he became a
medal winner in both the London Olympics and the London Paralympics. This
book, Blade Runner - My Story (ISBN 978-0-7535-4085-5, Virgin Books, 2012)
tells of his life leading up to the competitions themselves in London.
He was born without one of the two bones in his lower legs and consequently
malformed feet. His parents began the agonizing search for specialists who
could advise them in what to do, what to expect and the chances for the
child to live a life somewhere near “normal”.
The consensus of medical opinion was that a double amputation would be the
best course of action. Imagine having to make that decision as a parent. At
11 months of age the operation was carried out, with the amputation being
below knee for both legs. In a few months after that, he was walking with
his prostheses and never looked back.
The introduction encapsulates the book, and his life story. “The story of a
young boy surrounded by love, support and the courage of his family; of a
young man who experienced the most profound grief with the loss of his
adored mother and of a man who is chasing his dream - a dream to become an
athlete. Not a disabled athlete, simply an athlete.”
He describes how initially he was disdainful of the Paralympics movement,
and you can read into that it was almost a surrender for him, or even a
failure, to compete at what he thought was a lower level. However, he
advanced from that opinion and now looks upon disabled sporting contests as
just another contest, just the same as he does for the Olympics. “Just
another sporting avenue,” he writes.
What makes his personal struggle even more engrossing is the section where
he was ruled ineligible for able-bodied events. He was beating the
qualifying times set for Olympics, but a decision was made that his ‘blades’
gave him an advantage. Not taken into account was the fact that being an
amputee and having to use two prosthetic legs was a decided disadvantage.
This was done by the International Association of Athletics Federations
(IAAF) in 2007. The IAAF then weakened their stance by saying that they
would have to examine his prostheses to see if they did give an advantage.
He appealed against the IAAF decision and this went to the Court of
Arbitration in Sport, where more scientific testing was done, which
eventually showed there were no advantages for him with his blades, and
there was no reason he should be banned from able-bodied athletic events.
That took almost one year, and Pistorius does open his soul for the reader
to see and experience.
At B. 435, it is a weekend’s read, and by the time you have read the letters
he received (at the end of the book) you will understand this athlete’s
family much better, and how his family had such an influence on his life.
Anyone who believes in ‘fair play’, especially on a sporting field will
appreciate why I enjoyed this book.