Double-Amputee Oscar Pistorius to Compete in London Olympics
I am an absolute nut for the Olympics. I sing along to the national anthems (whenever I know any of the words), and have been known to wake up at all hours of the morning to watch obscure sports (handball and fencing are two particular favorites—and during every winter games my passion for curling reaches previously unseen heights).
This year, I’ve even been watching the Olympic trials—all in preparation for just two events: the individual men’s 400 meter run, and the 4×400 relay. In a rare departure from my Team USA zealotry, I’ll be pulling for South Africa.
To be more precise, I’ll be pulling for Oscar Pistorius. Born without major bones in either leg, and fitted with prosthetics below each knee, he’ll be competing in both events as the first ever amputee (let alone double amputee) track athlete to compete at any games.
Pistorious’ candidacy for competition, and inclusion in this year’s field, has long been debated in the world of sports, with some arguing that his artificial limbs give him an unfair advantage over other athletes. For years, he was not allowed to compete against other, able-bodied athletes precisely because of these concerns.
But in just a few day’s time, that all will come to an end, and, for millions of people the world over, Oscar Pistorius will race through longstanding barriers to inclusion of people with disabilities in our society. This is to be a performance whose meaning lasts well after the cameras are packed and the lights are off—underscoring how people with disabilities can and should and will participate in all aspects of our society.
The Reform movement has long championed such inclusion, remembering what we are taught in Pirkei Avot, “do not separate yourself from the community” – the correlation of which is not to allow anyone to be cut off from their community.
When he comes off the starting block, for millions of people with disabilities around the world, Oscar Pistorius will be ensuring that the Olympic community is evermore one that people with disabilities are included in.
And that will only make the games even more meaningful.
Image courtesy AFP/Getty Images, via ESPN.com