DAEGU, South Korea – With a strong finishing kick on his carbon-fiber blades, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius swept past several able-bodied runners in the 400 meters today to qualify for the semifinals at the world championships.
Pistorius recovered from his traditional slow start to pounce with power through the final bend and finishing straight to take third place in the final heat of the event and qualify for the next round. His time of 45.39 seconds was the 14th best of all competitors.
“I have worked extremely hard to be here,” Pistorius said. “And it has been phenomenal to run.”
Despite his fame, the South African was never destined to win his heat – just getting through had been a cliffhanger in itself.
Running in the tough outside lane, he had to count on a big move in the second half of the race and with 50 meters to go, five runners were still in it for the four automatic spots.
Pistorius, though, was not to be denied. He dipped at the tape for his third-place finish behind Bahamian winner Chris Brown.
“It has been a lot of pressure in the race, and there is a lot of work for tomorrow,” Pistorius said of Monday’s semifinals.
Before Pistorius’ thrilling run, Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles and David Oliver made sure the most compelling final was still on track when all three qualified for the semifinals of the 110 hurdles.
The final is set for today and should bring the three fastest performers in history together for one of the highlights of the nine-day championships.
Later today, Usain Bolt will highlight the 100 semifinals and likely the final, too, considering how dominating the Jamaican was in Saturday’s heats.
Kenenisa Bekele will be looking for his fifth straight 10,000 title, which would push him past the mark he now shares with Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie.
The men’s decathlon also reaches its climax, with American teammates Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton at the top of the standings after seven of 10 events.