Oscar Pistorius, who is making history in London as the first amputee runner at the Olympics, called it “a dream come true” as he advanced to the semifinals in the 400 meters with a second-place finish in his preliminary heat Saturday morning.
“I’ve worked for six years to reach the 400 (qualifying) standard, and to come out here today is an unbelievable experience,” said Pistorius, who finished second in his heat in a time 45.44 seconds before a packed crowd at the Olympic Stadium. “I found myself smiling in the starting blocks, which is very rare in the 400 meters. And as I came out of the tunnel I saw my friends and family there. My grandmother, she’s 89, she was there with a South African flag. It was just an amazing experience. …
“It’s very difficult to separate the occasion from the race. Although they’re intertwining, you get so much energy from the crowd. A lot of athetes are saying the track is quick, and I believe the track is fast. But the crowd is making it that much more enjoyable. I’ve got goosebumps now, and it’s been an hour since I raced.”
Pistorius, a 25-year-old South African who was born without fibula bones in both legs, admits reaching the semifinals was his realistic goal coming in to London. But when he gets in the blocks for his next race Sunday — already, defending Olympic champ LaShawn Merritt is out due to a hamstring injury — he’ll be thinking even bigger.
“It’s one thing being here, and it’s another performing when you’re here,” Pistorius said. “That, for me, is a task that I take seriously.”