After running 45.07 seconds to meet the 400m qualification time for this month’s IAAF World Championships, South African Oscar Pistorius is hoping he is not the only Paralympian who might be on the plane to Korea.
The 24-year-old ‘blade runner’ is also hoping Ireland’s visually impaired sprinter Jason Smyth, the fastest Paralympian on the planet, will be in Daegu representing his native Ireland.
After winning Paralympic gold in the 100m and 200m in Beijing, both in world record time, Smyth missed January’s IPC Athletics World Championships through injury. However, the 24-year-old Irishman has recovered and is now pushing hard to compete in Korea, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by his fellow Paralympian Pistorius.
“Jason is on fire at the moment. He’s on 10.22 and has to get down to 10.18. He’s an unbelievably dedicated athlete,” Pistorius told www.ParalympicSport.TV, the International Paralympic Committee’s online TV channel.
”I follow him quite a lot and although we haven’t met, he’s definitely someone I respect.”
Another athlete Pistorius is monitoring closely is American Jerome Singleton, a T44 athlete who is likely to challenge the South African’s bid to win all three individual sprint golds at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
This January Singleton became the first man in seven years to beat Pistorius in a Paralympic race to win the 100m world title in Christchurch, New Zealand. The likeable South African is full of credit though for his arch rival Singleton.
“Jerome has a phenomenal race at the worlds and he was the better athlete on the day,” said Pistorius who responded in May by running 11.04, the fastest 100m time in four years.
“Jerome is definitely going to have to get into training really hard and step it up a little bit for next year.”
Despite only taking 100m silver in Christchurch, Pistorius did win gold in the 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay, an event he is very much looking forward to competing in next year in London.
“To be able to run an event where we combine the team aspect kind of gives you a bit of excitement. I really lack that team aspect and that feeling I had when I was growing up,” said Pistorius who was an accomplished rugby union player in his youth.
“I think with a bit of practice leading up to next year, the 4 x 100m is definitely something that we’re going to launch with a big bang. I think that’s one South Africa can walk away with a gold in.”
The world record for the Men’s T42-46 4x100m relay currently stands at 42.75 seconds, set by the USA team featuring Jerome Singleton in Beijing.