Monday, August 6, 2012

Blade Runner is awesome, not Olympian

I read that Oscar Pistorius is the talk of the Olympics. That's pretty awesome, except I don't think he belongs in the Olympics. (I forgot until now that I wrote about him four years ago, and damn! I am good. This just expands on that four-year-old theme.)

I hear people ask whether he has an advantage or a disadvantage, and columnists say how could an  amputee be advantaged, which seems kind of offensive and paternalistic to me but whatever.

The issue seems to me not to be whether his blades help or hurt him, but whether he runs with the same muscles others do. And he doesn't.

I don't know much about running, and I have written about how annoyed it makes me that I can't even remember how to run. But I do know that calves and ankles and feet are a big part of the running process, but not for him.

If the idea of running is merely to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible, why are steroids illegal? Why can't someone in a manual wheelchair compete? What about someone who exercises the muscles of his fingers with a Wii controller?

Not of this should be considered a criticism of Pistorius' athleticism. I imagine that, like most Paralympians, he is probably a better athlete than many of his Olympic competitors. I love and am in awe of Michael Phelps, Miss Franklin, Usain Bolt and  all the others, but were I to design an athlete I might choose one of them as my model. I know they have honed their bodies to perfection.

But Paralympians take an inelegant body and force it to do whatever amazing thing they want: like running a 400 on blades not legs.

And it is amazing. I  just don't think it belongs in the Olympics.

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