Pistorius And South Africa's Relay Team Win Reprieve, Will Race In Final
Oscar Pistorius, who made history last weekend when he became the first amputee to run in an Olympic race, saw his London 2012 experience come to an abrupt end Thursday — before a successful appeal put his South African 4x400m relay team back in business.
Pistorius never got a chance to run in the relay's qualifying heat, as he awaited the baton handoff from teammate Ofentse Mogawane. But Mogawane, who was running the second leg of the race, slammed into the back of a Kenyan runner who had drifted into his lane.
The runners fell — and so did Pistorius' hopes of one more race, and one more shot at a medal at the London Games. He seemed to be in disbelief after the collision; his team did not finish the race.
But the South Africans, who finished with a silver medal in the 2011 world championships in the 4.400m relay, appealed the decision to the IAAF, which governs track events at the Olympics. The organization deemed that Mogawane had been obstructed, and advanced the South African team into the final.
They will run in the ninth lane; the race had eight qualifiers, so the South Africans did not take a spot away from another squad. And they will have their hands full: All the other teams have run quicker season-best times than South Africa's season-best of 3:04.01 — most of them by at least 3 seconds.
The final will take place Friday at 4:20 p.m. ET.
It was quite a turnaround for Pistorius, who said immediately after the race that the relay team was "pretty gutted. We've been training as a group for the last five or six years.
After the announcement, he tweeted, "Thank you Lord! Emotional roller coaster!"
Mogawane, who suffered what appears to be a shoulder injury in his crash, will not run in the final. His place will be filled by LJ van Zyl, who came to London primarily to run in the 400-meter hurdles. But he's also been part of the relay team since the 2008 Beijing Games.
The rest of the team is made up of Shaun de Jager and Willem de Beer. So, I guess we know what the team will drink if they win gold. As you would expect, de Jager leads off and de Beer chases.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.