Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius is going to the London Olympics after being selected in South Africa’s 4×400 relay team.
The “Blade Runner” is set to become the first amputee track athlete ever to compete at the games after South Africa’s Olympic committee picked him on Wednesday as one of 13 athletes on the national team that was initially selected last month.
“Today is really one of the happiest days of my life! Will be in (at) London2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games!” the multiple Paralympic champion posted on Twitter.
“Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!”
Pistorius was selected alongside Willem de Beer, Ofentse Mogawane and Shaun de Jager for the 4×400 race.
The selection eased Pistorius’ disappointment at his failure to qualify in the individual 400 metres.
The 25-year-old South African runs on carbon fibre blades. Despite missing out in the 400 by less than a quarter of a second at his final qualifying race at the African championships last week, Pistorius will get to realise his dream of competing at Olympic and Paralympic events in the same year.
Pistorius made history last year by qualifying for the world championships Daegu, South Korea. He won silver with South Africa in the 4×400 as the first amputee competing in the race. However, the decision to leave him out of the final race caused controversy.
He travelled from South Africa to Europe, to the United States and then to Benin, in West Africa, in his quest to achieve the qualifying time. He missed out by 0.22 seconds in that final race in Benin last week, despite still winning silver in the African final.
South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee said Pistorius was picked for the London Games because of his athletic achievements, not because he is the world’s most famous disabled athlete.
“As I have said many times before, we are not taking passengers to London,” said SASCOC President Gideon Sam said.
“Everyone has met selection criteria and are genuine Olympic Games material, either now or for 2016. I wish them all the best.”
Pistorius set the leading time in South Africa this season when he ran an Olympic-qualifying 45.20 seconds in the 400 at the March meet in Pretoria, his hometown. However, he failed to set a second time ‘A’ time at an international competition before Saturday to meet South Africa’s strict selection criteria for the individual 400.