(PRWEB) August 06, 2012
South Africa's four-time Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius realised a dream after he made it through to the semi-finals of the 400m on his Olympic debut.
The 25-year-old, who runs with prosthetic limbs, became the first male Paralympian to compete in the Olympics - and the first amputee to compete in athletics - and made it into the semis by coming second in his heat.
The double amputee was unable to book a place in the final as he struggled out of the blocks and finished eighth in his semi-final in a time of 46.54, after being out of contention by the time he reached the final straight.
Grenada's Kirani James won the heat in a time of 44.59 and immediately asked Pistorius for the name off his running vest as a memento.
"Oscar is something special in our event," said James. "It was a memorable moment for me to be out here with him."
Pistorius, who fought a long battle to be allowed to compete in the Olympics, had looked comfortable in recording a time of 45.44 seconds in his heat - his fastest of the season and just 0.37 off his personal best.
After Saturday's heat an emotional Pistorius said: "Thank you to everyone. I didn't know whether to cry or be happy.
"It was the most amazing experience. I have competed so many times in the UK this crowd feels like a second home to me."
Pistorius has also been selected in South Africa's 4x400m relay team at the Olympics, with the heats taking place on 9 August and the final the following day.
A 17-year-old Pistorius also won gold in the 200m and bronze in the 100m at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.
Natalia Partyka of Poland, who was born without a right hand and forearm and will compete in the class 10 at the Paralympics, made it through to the third round of women's Olympic competition at London 2012 before being knocked out.
She competed at the Sydney Paralympics at the age of 11 and also qualified for both the Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing four years ago.
South African's legendary Paralympic swimmer Natalie du Toit, a leg amputee who has won 10 gold medals and will compete in the S9 class at London 2012, also competed in the Olympics in 2008.