LONDON -- After his South Africa 4x400 relay team crashed in Thursday afternoon’s semifinal, Oscar Pistorius sent out this tweet:
We have been so blessed to this point with a Silver at World Champs in 2011 and We were looking forward to the Final. We will be back soon!
He wasn’t kidding about "soon." Just five minutes later, he tweeted that track and field’s governing body had advanced the South African team to the relay final because it had been “severely damaged’’ when second leg runner Ofentse Mogawane was tripped by a Kenyan competitor.
Pistorius tweeted: IT'S ON!! We in the FINAL. Team management Protested as Ofentse was taken out and we have been given Lane 9!!
Pistorius said the day had been an emotional roller coaster, and indeed, it was such a roller coaster that it should have been marked by a six-foot cartoon figure holding a paw above his heads with the words: “Warning! You cannot ride this roller coaster unless you have already survived this level of mental and emotional strain.’’
But hey, Pistorius has been through it all, so what’s one more emotional churn? His legs were amputated shortly after birth and the IAAF once banned him from competition because it viewed his prosthetic legs as an unfair advantage. He fought through it all and finally reached the Olympics to inspire the world by running in the individual 400 meters last weekend.
Pistorius wants to do more than run and inspire, though. He wants to win a medal in the 4x400 relay, which is possible because South Africa was good enough to finish second at last summer’s world championships. For a while though, it looked like he wasn’t even going to be able to run in the semifinal, let alone for a medal.
Although Pistorius waited to run the third leg, Mogawane tripped with Kenya’s Vincent Kiilu around the last turn and fell to the track. Injured, he was not able to continue the race, so Pistorius instead stood at the exchange line waiting for a teammate who would never arrive.
“I took my eyes off the screen and looked down the straightaway and just as I took them off, it must have happened, because I looked down the straight and I was waiting for him,’’ Pistorius said. “He’s not the biggest of guys, so initially I thought he was pushed behind someone. And then I kept on looking and kept on looking -- and obviously he didn’t come on.’’
Replays appeared to show Kiilu cut in front of Mogawane, or at least drift into his lane. Both runners went down in a heap. Kiilu was able to get back up and struggle ahead, but Mogawane could not.
Kiilu insisted that he was not to blame for the fall. “I wasn’t at fault -- somebody spiked me from behind,’’ he said, showing the spike mark on his shoe. “I was in front and then he spiked me from behind.’’
The IAAF Jury of Appeal disagreed, ruling Kiilu had obstructed his South African rival. Initially, Pistorius said the team would not protest because it would provide no consolation. He said his disappointment and frustration would rank 11 on a scale of 10, and that he would grow even sadder when what happened sunk into his head.
Before that happened, though, his team had been reinstated and Pistorius was tweeting photos of himself running.
Will be up on the 3rd leg tomorrow for the Final! Really can't wait!