South African Paralympic and Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius competes in a 400 metres race against Arab horse Maserati during the closing ceremony of the Doha Goals Forum yesterday. Abdul Basit
BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius staged a sensational spectacle winning over Arabian racehorse Maserati amid cheers of hundreds of spectators at the Aspire Zone outdoor circuit last night.
The double amputee ‘Blade Runner’ displayed consistency in his speed the moment he took off from the starting blocks till the finish line leaving Maserati in his dust failing to outpace the South African sprinter who earlier made history this year by becoming the first amputee to compete in the Olympics.
“Absolutely awesome!” was what South African fan Tracy Muller could say after Pistorius’ dazzling triumph over his equine challenger.
“I’m a proud South African and I’m very proud of Oscar - a great inspiration to all,” added Muller, waving the South African flag together with her entire family who came just to witness the rare event.
Dubbed ‘Run like the wind’, the race was a thrilling finale to the inaugural Doha GOALS Forum and a significant part of the ‘Definitely able’ campaign - a collaborative initiative between international energy and chemical company Sasol, the Qatar Olympic Committee and the Qatar Paralympic Committee whose aim is to highlight the positive contribution and possibilities for people living with disabilities in Qatar.
“We are here to celebrate this initiative to send this inspiring message especially to young athletes that we say definitely able not disabled and that anybody who has an objective in life can achieve it in his own way,” said Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC).
The interspecies event was a brilliant showcase of Pistorius – an icon who has inspired both the able and the differently able and the Arabian horse – known to be an icon of strength in the Arab world.
Dr Hassan Al Ansari, Secretary General of Qatar Paralympic Committee said the event shed light on the importance of sports for people with special needs and expressed hope it would promote a better understanding with regard to special needs people.
The hundreds in the audience composed of Doha Goals Forum delegates as well as residents cheered Pistorius as well as Qatari athletes who came for the show.
The ‘Definitely able’ campaign launched in June this year with ‘Chairs vs Champs’ exhibition match featuring the South African Wheelchair Basketball Team and Definitely Able athletes from Qatar Paralympic Committee.
Marjo Louw, President of Sasol Qatar, said the campaign was started to change people’s perceptions about disabilities and use sports to promote equality.
The race was not the first time athletes have competed against horses with some of the most notable champions such as 1936 Olympics hero Jesse Owens and 1992 Olympic 100m gold medallist Linford Christie also going up against their four-legged friends, who generally out-paced their human rivals.