Amputee Pistorius, Semenya to compete in World Athletics

August 8th, 2011 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Aug 8 (IANS) Oscar Pistorius is all set to become the first amputee athlete to compete at the World Championships.

Double-amputee sprinter Pistorius and controversial world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya have been included in South Africa’s 26-member squad for the World meet in Daegu, South Korea.

Semenya was cleared to run last year after 11 months because of gender tests.

Pistorius was cleared to compete against able-bodied athletes in 2008.

“I have dreamt for such a long time of competing in a major championships and this is a very proud moment in my life,” Pistorius was quoted as saying in BBC.

“It will be a great day for me when I set out on the track in Daegu and I hope to do my country proud,” he said.

“This will be the highest-profile and most prestigious able-bodied event which I have ever competed in, and I will face the highest-calibre of athletes from across the planet.”

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president James Evans said they have selected all those athletes who fulfilled the qualification criteria.

“With 11 athletes competing for the first time at this level, we are very clearly looking to 2012 and beyond,” he said.

“It is exciting to see this kind of talent at our disposal for the next four years, and with an average age of 24 years, this is quite healthy.”

Pistorius, 24, a four-time Paralympic gold medallist, clocked a personal best time of 45.07 seconds at a meeting in Lignano, Italy, last month to book his place in the team.

Ranked 18th in the world this year, Pistorius improved the A-qualifying standard by 0.18 seconds.

He was also named in the men’s 4×400m relay squad.

Semenya, meanwhile, was inconsistent in her build-up to the global championships.

The 20-year-old middle distance specialist, who was cleared last year to run against women, was thrust into the limelight at the centre a gender debacle after she won the 800m title in Berlin two years ago.

Her season’s best of 1:58.60 — more than three seconds slower than her national record — has ranked her only 14th in the world heading into the global championships.

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