Ahead of January’s IPC Athletics World Championships, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has admitted he finds it ‘scary’ running against rival Jerome Singleton and fears the American sprinter could steal his 100m T44 title from him in Christchurch.
Two years ago at the Beijing Paralympic Games, the athlete affectionately known as ‘Blade Runner’ staged a remarkable comeback to beat Singleton on the line by just 0.03 seconds to claim 100m gold.
And last year the two were practically inseparable again and Pistorius is well aware he will have to be at his best to retain his 100m world crown in Christchurch.
Speaking to www.paralympic.org, the International Paralympic Committee’s website, Pistorius said: “At the BT Paralympic World Cup last year we crossed the line in the same splits as we did in Beijing.
“The time was slower but the splits were the same so it’s going to be quite scary running against him in Christchurch. I’m definitely expecting it to be my hardest race.”
After analyzing his performance from Beijing, Pistorius is aware that big improvements will have to be made to retain gold in Christchurch.
Oscar Pistorius said: “It was not a good start and my race wasn’t run technically properly. I was last after 30 metres and my reaction speed was bad.
“There was a lot of amateur faults I made in that race, I was very lucky to come away with a win.”
Despite the growing rivalry between the two athletes, Pistorius has nothing but respect for the 24 year old American.
“He’s a really nice guy and I really like him,” said Pistorius. “He’s very down to earth, humble and hard working – everything you’d like in a competitor.
“He’s not a big talker which I also like, his talent talks on the track. He’s a phenomenal athlete and a great guy,” added Pistorius.
Born on 22 November 1986 with congenital absence of fibula in both legs, Pistorius was just 11 months old when his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.
He only took up Athletics in 2004 as part of a rehabilitation programme for a serious knee injury sustained whilst playing school rugby.
In his first year of running Pistorius made an immediate impact winning 200m gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and bronze in the 100m.
Two years later at the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands, he completed a clean sweep winning gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
This was a feat he repeated again at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. After narrowly beating Singleton to gold in the 100m he set a new Paralympic record in winning the 200m. In his strongest event the 400m he set a new World Record in claiming gold.
In Christchurch he will compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m and will be one of more than 1,000 athletes from 70 countries taking part in the IPC Athletics World Championships.
Other big names participating in New Zealand from 21-30 January include Irish sprinter Jason Smyth - the fastest Paralympian on the planet, and David Weir - the Brit who won this year’s New York marathon.