Alright, bad pun on the title there but I could't think of anything else that ticked the boxes of relevant and inoffensive.
What I'm on about is The Blade Runner. Oscar Pistorius you may also know him as. He was recently allowed to compete at this years' Olympics as part of the South African 4 x 100m relay team. He has 2 prosthetic legs.
This will make hisory. Some athletes are up in their regular arms about it because his robotic legs cannot feel the tiredness of an able-bodied person. But they also have no environmental response mechanism, and while they have been developed by some of the best Prostetic technicians in the world, they will never, ever match up to how the human body can graduate from walking to jogging to a sprint in a short space of time. 100m in under 10 seconds? Not your usual run in the park.
This week, BBC Producer Stuart Hughes posted an article about his upcoming run with the Olympic Torch, using his recently created prosthesis. Stuart lost his leg below the knee while in Iraq and has previously used a regular, anatomically similar prosthesis, but with not very much in the way of function by the looks of it. That is to say, it had the shape of a regular leg, but no movement.
He has now had a carbon fibre prosthesis made for him for the Torch run, developed by a compnay I have previously worked for, Blatchford. There was a video about the development and production and really, it is amazing what they can do and how they do it.
However, as Stuart comments, "No leg constructed from metal and finely spun carbon thread can yet match the complexity and perfection of a limb made from muscle, skin and bone. My prosthesis, however, is trying its best to catch up with hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution".
So I think Oscar Pistorius should be welcomed into the world of mainstream athletics. His times are not especially anything to worry about so I really don't think other runners should worry too much; he is not (yet) a Bionic Man. And it makes a nice change that he doesn't require anyone to help him run (see Blind 100m sprint in the Paralympics - all well and good except the guide gets frig all recognition for stopping the winner running out of line/falling over/running the wrong way).
I do think he should not be allowed to compete in the same events in the Paralympics though, that is unfair if he has already cometed as an able bodied athlete.
But then we have the question 'where or how do we draw the line?'
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