South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius says he is both nervous and excited ahead of the Olympic season.
Pistorius is on the brink of realising his dream of participating in the able-bodied Olympic Games in London in July. True to his character, however, the “Blade Runner” has his eyes set on greater things, reports SAPA’s Ockert de Villiers.
“This year holds a lot and there is a lot of opportunity, but there is a lot of hard work that is going into preparing,” Pistorius said.
“We started training on October 25 and we trained through December. Progress is looking good and I am feeling comfortable with where we are now.”
Last year Pistorius became the first amputee to win a World Athletics Championships medal on the track, as a member of the SA 4×400 metres relay team that won silver in Daegu, South Korea.
His pursuit, however, of competing on an equal footing with non-disabled athletes meant that he neglected a couple of his Paralympic events Ä the 100m and 200m sprints. This year he will have to deal with the added pressure – if he qualifies – of participating in both the Olympics and the Paralympics which are mere weeks apart.
The 25-year-old said he had absolute faith in his coach of eight years, Ampie Louw, who managed to keep his charge in top form for most of last season. “I don’t know how he does it, but he got me to peak really early last year and I maintained that until the very last race I ran in Belgium – where I ran 45.30 seconds,” Pistorius said.
“It was kind of like I kept the same form for five months. It was kind of strange. He is really good like that. He knows when I need to peak and he gives me rest when I need to rest.
“We’re going to have that challenge this year, probably more so than ever before, because we’ve got the European season where I need to qualify. So I need to be able to be near my top peak then and I would like to be in London for the Olympics and post some really good times.”
He said the greatest challenge would be to switch from the 400m, which is about “being economic rather than being powerful”, to the 100m and 200m events for the Paralympics, which are “just about blasting it”.
Pistorius suffered his first defeat in a Paralympic 100m race in seven years when Jerome Singleton of the United States won the gold medal in the short sprint at the IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand last season. “The 100m has always been a commanding race for me in the Paralympics,” he said.
“I haven’t focussed on the 100m in over five years but it is a race that is very close to my heart and it is one of the showcase events. It’s something I would really like to be able do well at the Paralympics, so it is a lot of planning that’s gone into this season to get my weight where it needs to be and to be as powerful as I possibly can.”
Pistorius said the adjustments made by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to the Olympic qualifying standards could be a confidence booster. “It does make a big difference. If anything, it might give you a little bit more confidence to get the times down where they need to be,” he said.
“In essence I would have had three A-qualification times if the standard that they had set at the end of the season was like that at the beginning. I ran 45.27 and 45.29 when the standard was 45.25, and now they have gone up to 45.30.
“Even on the small splits it doesn’t seem like much, but it could be that one race that you just make it in that 0.5.”
Pistorius said he would compete at the SA Athletics Championships in Port Elizabeth in April, but he would target faster times during the international season.
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