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Monday, 3 September 2012


The Paralympics are in full swing, and there are plenty of medals flowing to Team GB.

One interesting story of note revolves around Oscar Pistorius, a 200m race and the fairness of running blades.  I have been pondering on this one for a while, and here are my rambled thoughts.

When I race my six-year old, I try not to run at full speed so that I nearly win, or lose as we call it round here.  The main reason for this is about maintaining the delicate balance of self-worth and self-confidence in my six-year old, because the fundamental reason why I can probably, at full speed, run faster than him is because I have longer legs.

When we were camping recently, there was a boy with those blade leg extension type things, that makes him about ten feet tall with a leg length of six feet.  He was not expert at running with them attached, but nevertheless he could cover the ground at a frightening speed.

All this is to say that taller people will probably, on average, run faster than shorter people.  This theory must therefore extend to those without limbs, who are using blades as a replacement "lower leg and foot" combo.

So, how do you regulate the size of such blades, what they look like, what they are made of?  This is certainly a question in Oscar Pistorius' mind, having just been beaten by Alan Oliveira in the 200m final.  On deeper inspection, he has called this out previously, and has now followed up his initial comment with an apology for the timing of the said comments, however, for him, there is still a question over the length of his opponent's blade.

So, the question for me remains, how long is too long.  Should they all be a regulation length?  If so, then this will penalise those who have had more leg amputated.  Should they be as long as the leg would have been if the individual had them?  Maybe, but this is likely to be at least a smidge subjective and something over which even the Silent Witness crowd might disagree.

I am hoping that as this story unfolds, if it remains in the public eye, some intrepid reporter does get to the bottom of how long they are allowed to be, and all the regulations surrounding the design of the blades, because there is a little chap down South that, even with the Force, is struggling to get his head round the details.

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