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Double-amputee Oscar Pistorius leads SAfrican 400-meter relay team to final at worlds
DAEGU, South Korea (AP) ' Even though Oscar Pistorius doesn't run the hurdles and doesn't compete in the steeplechase, the obstacles he keeps clearing are relentless.
Even after the double-amputee runner led off South Africa's 4x400-meter relay team and into the final of the world championships, he is still not sure whether he is assured of a spot in the four-man starting lineup on Friday.
"I can't tell you," South African relay team manager Magda Botha said. "It's part of our strategy."
It is all part of Pistorius' life, where nothing has ever come easily since he had his legs amputated as a baby.
After making a historic breakthrough for Paralympic athletes by reaching the semifinals of the 400 early this week, Pistorius ran a strong opening leg on the tough inside lane Thursday to help South Africa to a third-place finish in the heats and a South African record of 2 minutes, 59.21 seconds.
"It's unbelievable to be part of one of the four names on the list to run a national record," Pistorius said. "It makes me extremely proud. To make the finals even makes me more happy."
The United States and Jamaica led qualifying, just ahead of South Africa.
It was already considered an impressive performance for Pistorius to get into the 400 semifinals on his carbon-fiber blades. On Thursday, the relay performance did one better.
Standing on the sidelines after finishing his first leg, he shouted encouragement and applauded his teammates as they ran for qualification in 97-degree heat.
Leaving Pistorius off would be unexpected because he trails only L.J. van Zyl, Thursday's bronze 400 hurdles bronze medalist, in the South African season's standings.
"To tell you the truth, we have a meeting tonight with team management and then a meeting tomorrow with the athletes and then we'll make the final decision," Botha said.
Pistorius said he just has to wait and see.
"I'm sure we'll have a meeting tonight," Pistorius said. "Pretty excited for that."
All through his youth, Pistorius played games and sports with able-bodied kids, refusing to accept the difference of having shins, ankles, feet and toes. He was an accomplished athlete, became a Paralympic star and won three gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics.
Yet he always wanted to compete against the best.
When the IAAF refused to let him, he took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won the right in 2008 to be allowed to run in able-bodied events on his blades.
At first he didn't qualify for major championships, but Pistorius finally achieved the qualifying mark for Daegu with a personal best of 45.07 seconds at a small meet in northern Italy in July on his last attempt.
After failing to reach the final in the individual 400, he is poised to run his first final in the relays ' assuming he gets a spot in the starting lineup.