Do you guys all remember Michael Johnson? The runner from the 1996 and 2000 Olympics with the “golden shoes” who won a bunch of races? Yeah, him. Well, he’s still competing, is planning to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London next week, and has brought a controversy to light.
One of his fellow runners, a man he makes a point to say is his friend, is a disabled runner. Oscar Pistorius, from South Africa, is known as “Blade Runner”, because he is missing his legs below the knees and runs on “blades” (see the picture). These blades are made from a springy steel substance, and rebound when they hit the ground, allowing the wearer to run.
Johnson says that Pistorius and others like him shouldn’t be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games, because they may possess an unfair advantage provided by those springy prosthetics. He quotes fellow Olympic runner Roger Black, who outlined the situation well: “What happens when we have a Michael Johnson, a 43-second 400-metre runner, who then has a horrific accident and then becomes a disabled athlete and then you put him on blades, these prosthetics, and he is now running 41 seconds?”
Others disagree, saying that Pistorius is an inspiration, and should be allowed to compete. Disregarding the obvious baiting, there is quite the debate going on in the comments section of the linked article – everything from “he belongs in the Paralympics” to “this will cause others to amputate limbs to get the same advantage that the blades provide.”