15 February 2011
Mini Research Paper
A Leg Up on the Competition
Oscar Pistorius would be considered by most to be at a very clear disadvantage in the track and field world. Born without fibulae in either leg, Pistorius had both legs amputated in early infancy. According to PubMed.gov, early childhood amputees with mild to severe leg deformities have a good chance to lead fairly normal lives. Children with severe deformities in their upper body usually have to depend on help from others for much of their lives because of the fine motor functions involved in using arms and hands. Many common tasks that require the use of arms, hands, and fingers cannot be easily carried out with prosthetic limbs. Pistorius was fitted with prosthetic legs as a child and he adjusted to walking rather quickly. Soon fallowing the loss of his mother, Pistorius began running and developed athletic aspirations. He was fitted with racing blade prosthetics and by 2004 he began competing and placing in numerous Paralympic sprinting events.
It wasn’t until Pistorius made the jump to able bodied competition and found success that much of the controversies surrounding a possible unfair advantage due to his prosthetic limbs. When competing, Pistorius uses J-shaped carbon fiber Cheetah racing prosthetic blades. His ability to compete at an equal or higher level than most able bodied athletes led to a study led by the International Association of Athletics Federations to determine whether or not the prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage.
The IAAF determined that the blades transferred more energy back to his upper legs more so than natural calve and leg muscles. Naturally this came as heart wrenching news to Pistorius who, for a majority of his life, had to prove that he could compete with able bodied athletes despite his own disabilities. Now he was faced with the dilemma of having to prove that his racing blade prosthetics...