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95 per cent support me: Pistorius
Guy Aspin
03:37 AEST Thu Aug 2 2012

Oscar Pistorius insists he will be powered by natural talent and hard work rather than state-of-the-art technology when he makes Olympic history on Saturday.

The South African, set to become the first amputee sprinter to compete in an Olympics when he runs in the heats of the 400 metres, admits there will always be people who feel he does not belong because he is different.

He runs with prosthetic running blades, having had his lower legs amputated at 11 months old after being born without a fibula in either leg.

Debate over whether those blades give him an unfair advantage has raged since he started running in international able-bodied competition in 2007, and he had to win a legal battle with the IAAF in 2008 before he was allowed to compete in the Olympics.

"I didn't want to be in a sport where I felt I was there due to a piece of equipment and not on my own merit," the 25-year-old said on Wednesday.

"I believe in the fairness of sport.

"Any improvements since I started have not been from any aid or any changes made technically, they've been from hard training and a lot of sacrifice.

"I think if I had to listen to the five per cent of negativity out there and make a decision on my career based on that I wouldn't be here. Ninety-five per cent of people out here support me.

"We all run a distance which is 400m, you have to use your body to get over that distance.

"Even if I am visibly different I still have to use my muscles, I still have to train, prepare and I still have to make sacrifices.

"I believe that debate will always be alive in some people, but in my heart I knew what was right and I wouldn't be running if I have any doubt."

Pistorius, a four-time Paralympic champion, pointed out he has been running with the same Ossur Flex-Foot Cheetahs for the last eight years, while the blades themselves have been around since 1996, with up to 80 per cent of Paralympic amputees using them.

World record holder Michael Johnson is one of those to have expressed concerns about Pistorius's participation, saying the element of uncertainty over whether his blades provide an advantage is troubling.

"I think where his opinion comes in is the development of the prosthetic legs," Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner, added.

"If this (current one) was such an amazing piece of equipment how come thousands of other Paralympians are not breaking world records and challenging 45, even 47 or 48 seconds?

"I don't see any Paralympic athlete using the current prosthetics that I use in the near future running close to my times."

Pistorius, whose personal best stands at 45.07 seconds and is aiming for a semi-final spot in London, had the blades subjected to rigorous tests from leading scientists to get the all clear from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and he feels that should be sufficient.

"I can't make myself available for every scientist that has new thinking or new tests," he said.

Certainly his team-mates and rivals have no concerns.

"I have never spoken to them about it," he said. "I think everybody around me is relaxed about it, I think they see me as just another guy.

"And I grew up not really thinking I had a disability. I just thought I had different shoes."

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