- Special Pages
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius addresses the media during a press conference at the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) headquarters in Doha yesterday. RIGHT: Pistorius leaves the starting blocks in the men’s 400m heats during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London in this August 2012 file photo.
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: Popular South African athlete Oscar Pistorius will run for five more years and then change tack to help raise awareness about landmine victims across the world, the double leg amputee said in an interview yesterday.
Pistorious, who became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metres race, has been running at the top level since the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
“I am enjoying athletics at the moment. I will probably be running for another five years,” Pistorius said.
“But once I quit, I will be involved in landmine victims relief work in Africa. I would like to work like this in the coming years (after retirement),” the 26-year-old Sandton-born added.
Pistorius won a gold medal on September 5 during the London Paralympic Games, running the anchor leg as part of the South African 4x100m relay team.
The team set a world record time of 41.78secs. He was unsuccessful in defending his Beijing Olympics 100m title when he came fourth with a season’s best time of 11.17secs.
However, on September 8, the last full day of competition, Pistorius won gold in the T44 400m with a time of 46.68secs, breaking the Paralympic record.
“The training of the last four years has been much harder,” Pistorious said.
“You know I am really glad I am doing something that I believed in. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My career has definitely taught me a lot about myself,” he added.
Excerpts from a chat with Oscar Pistorius who will run against an Arabian horse in Doha on December 12 to raise the profile of disabled athletes:
Question: Can you give us a feedback on sports in your country and what do you think about Qatar’s involvement in promoting sports?
Oscar Pistorius: Sports is something really important for our youth. We have amazing competitions in South Africa. That really forms the basis for many children to play sport and be active. I think sports is not only about being active but it also teaches you hard work. It teaches you go to towards something you like. I think the level of kids here is amazing and they are reaping the benefits of fine organization that we see here from the Qatar Olympic and Paralymic Committees. Kids form their own committees of fun when they play sport. It is good to be part of an initiative like this. I am extremely proud to be here. I think great things can come from this region (in sports).
Question: Do you feel that running against a horse is the easiest thing you’ve done in life?
Pistorius: Definitely the most exciting (laughs). I have never even thought of doing something like this. This concept was brought up six months ago. The idea (of running against a horse) was brought up then. And you know the Arabian horses is an iconic thing of the region. It is just a very special kind of thing to do. I think it is going to be an amazing spectacle. It is going to be pretty special. There’s nobody who’s had the chance to do this. To be there and watch it is going to be exciting.
Question: What are you chances against the horse?
Pistorius: (Laughs). I am not sure. We will have a good race. I am going to do great deal of stretching (laughs). I will make sure I have enough proteins in my system. We’ll see what happens.
Question: How do you like to be remembered when you quit as an athlete?
Pistorius: I mean, for me it is not about what I have accomplished but the way I did it. For me it is important that people look back at my career and see that I have given my best ...that I have never let my talent go waste. I have always have been like this. I always work extremely hard. For me that’s the most important thing (working hard). Whatever I do but at the end of the day I want to see that I have worked as hard as possible. I just want to see that I have trained hard and done well. For me that’s all very important.
Question: Have you ever thought of life without running?
Pistorius: Yeah, I am looking forward to another part of my life (after retirement). But I am enjoying athletics at the moment. I enjoy what I am doing now.
Question: What message do you want to give to young people?
Pistorius: For anyone, able or disabled, I just want to tell them to believe in themselves. If you want to do something then just do it. Perceptions have changed in the last couple of years. People see that people with disability have achieved a lot. They may have limitations but they are very capable people is what I think. I believe that’s the beauty of life that everybody can cross barriers or hurdles in their lives. I know I have got things in my everyday life that don’t allow me to reach my goals, but there are millions of reasons that keep me going.
Question: Can you recap your journey at the London Games?
Pistorius: We had a very tough qualifying process in South Africa to reach the London Games. When I was selected for the Games, I was really overwhelmed. It was a dream of mine to be at the London Games. I was dreaming of being there for five years. We had a great team behind us. My family, my medical staff, my team-mates all of them put in a real great effort (for me to get to London). The one moment I remember was that when I walked up to the track (at the London Olympic Stadium) there were 80,000 fans. There I saw my family on the home stretch and it was just overwhelming for me. I was so fortunate that I was able to represent my country and be able to do all that. It was a fantastic experience. There was a lot of pressure and I enjoyed every minute on from the track. I was able to make the semi-finals of the 400m individual race. I made the final of 4x400m relay. Then I got two golds with world records. That was the best performance that I could give. There were athletes from around the world that saw all this. Nobody now views disabled athletes like they used to. The perceptions have changed dramatically over the last four years after Beijing (Olympic Games). Hopefully I will be able to continue doing this.
Question: How do you look back at your career?
Pistorius: The training of the last four years have been much harder. You know I am really glad I am doing something that I believed in. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My career has definitely taught me a lot about myself. I have had great support. I am very blessed.