LONDON — Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius will get a shot at an Olympic medal after all, even after his South African team failed to finish the heats of the 4x400m relay.
A jury of appeal said South Africa “had been severely damaged” in a collision between Ofentse Mogawane and a Kenyan runner who cut across him too soon in the second section of yesterday’s morning heat. The jury of appeal decided to give the extra ninth lane to South Africa – silver medallists at the last world championships – for today’s final.
On a hectic morning, it was the second reversal of fortunes for the South African.
First, the South African team never made it to the third section of the 4x400m relay in the opening heat after Mogawane crashed and dislocated his shoulder, leaving Pistorius waiting in the changeover zone for a baton that never came.
When he realised the race was lost, Pistorius raised his hands to his head, and waved his arms down in frustration.
“It’s not the place you want something like this to happen,” Pistorius said.
The judges later ruled that Kenya’s Vincent Kiilu had cut across Mogawane, causing the collision. South Africa launched an appeal to get reinstated, but Pistorius at first held out little hope of being added to the final because the team failed to finish the race.
“Even a protest isn’t any consolation,” he said.
Then came the surprising ruling.
“The Jury of Appeal met and agreed to advance the South African team to the final, even though they did not finish the race, considering that they had been severely damaged in the incident with Kenya,” the IAAF said in a statement. “South Africa will run as an additional team in lane 9.”
Now Pistorius still has the chance to leave London with something more than the distinction of becoming the first amputee athlete to run in an Olympic track and field competition.