LONDON (Reuters) - Oscar Pistorius thinks his greatest value to South Africa’s 4x400-metre relay team will be running in second or third place and the double amputee, nicknamed ‘Blade Runner’, on Wednesday welcomed a decision by the sport’s governing IAAF to allow him to run in any position at the London Games.
Pistorius, who races wearing carbon fiber prosthetic blades, started the relay off for South Africa at last year’s world championships amid concerns about the safety of other athletes during relay changeovers.
Following an IAAF council meeting in London on Tuesday, however, IAAF President Lamine Diack said it was not their place to determine the relay orders.
“If they want him to go from the second leg, he can run the second leg. It is no problem for us,” he told reporters.
Diack had said last year at the world championships in South Korea that Pistorius must run first.
“The only thing we said to the South African federation is that if he wants to run in the relay, he must run the first leg to avoid danger to other athletes,” he said.
On Wednesday, Pistorius said the safety concerns were overblown and both the IAAF and International Olympic Committee (IOC) were content to let the 25-year-old run in any position.
”I’ve run so many relays since 2004 and there’s never been an incident,“ he told a packed media conference. ”I ran the first leg last year, and the IAAF and IOC are happy with me running any leg.
“I ran in the African Championships a couple of weeks ago on the third leg, and there’s never been an incident or any reason for me not to run.”
Pistorius said starting the relay off would not be his first choice.
“I think second or third makes sense for me. On starts, with my prosthetic legs, I‘m just very slow. On a running start I’ll probably be a lot more use or value to the team.”
Born without a fibula in both legs, Pistorius fought for the right to line up against able-bodied competition.
Banned from running in able-bodied events by the IAAF in 2007, he appealed successfully to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the decision was revoked in 2008.
Pistorius said he had been rocked by the decision to ban him in the first place.
“We were taken aback because athletes had been using the same leg that I was using since 1996, and of the top Paralympic athletes there was never an athlete to run close to the times I was running in the 400,” he said.
“I was thinking if this leg provides such an advantage then how come everybody isn’t running the same times?”
Growing up Pistorius played a variety of sports with his older brother Carl.
“My mother used to tell us in the mornings, ‘Carl put on your shoes, Oscar you put on your prosthetic legs, and that’s the last I want to hear about it,'” he recalled.
“So I grew up not really thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes.”
Editing by Jason Neely