Oscar Pistorius has singled out US sprinter Jerome Singleton as the man most likely to take his 100-metre sprint crown at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand but dismissed the threat of his teammate Blake Leeper.
Since Pistorius beat Singleton to gold in a photo finish at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics the two have developed a strong rivalry and been barely separable in a number of races over the last two seasons.
The two were expected to be the main contenders for the 100m T44 world title, however after posting a wind assisted time of 11.08 seconds in a warm-up meet last Friday in Sydney, Australia, many are now predicting that Singleton’s rookie teammate Leeper could upstage both and take gold.
However, that’s not a view shared by the current World and Paralympic champion over 100m, 200m and 400m who believes the fact that this is Leeper’s first major Championships could cause him problems. ‘I don’t think Blake is at all a threat,’ said Pistorius.
‘Jerome Singleton is the guy to watch on that team.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ Blake’s time last week was with a 3.5m/s wind behind him. That might not sound a lot but in sprinting it’s massive. I’m sure if you gave me that back wind I’d break a world record. It’s a big assist. I think Blake Leeper ran a good time but experience will count for a lot.’
According to Pistorius, he was not surprised to learn that Leeper’s time – the fastest posted in two years ┬¡- was wind assisted and predicts the 21-year-old American is more likely to run 11.40 seconds in Christchurch.
Said Pistorius: ‘When the guys said the wind assist was 3.5m/s, I was like that’s nothing. That guy is going to be nothing to worry about.’
Pistorius clearly has different views on Singleton, an athlete who the South African predicted after Beijing in 2008 would one day be the guy to take over from him. ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿’He’s got a start that matches mine and Marlon Shirley’s, he’s got a quicker top end speed and he’s a really top calibre sprinter,’ said Pistorius of Singleton.
‘He’s not one of those guys who comes in for a year or two and disappears. ‘He’s a pro athlete and he’s a guy who I think will definitely take it one day. ┬áHe’s a 100m specialist and I’m not. He’s definitely the real deal.’
It’s not just the two Americans who Pistorius expects to challenge him for his 100m crown. He thinks there could be up to five contenders and is predicting a classic race. ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿’I really have a lot of respect for a lot of the guys here and it’s going to be quite an exciting race. Whoever wins it is definitely going to deserve it. I think there are some other guys who are in with a good chance.
We’ve got five guys in the race who have run 11.20 or 11.30 seconds in the last two years so it’s not going to be just me to beat.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ There is my teammate Arnu Fourie who is extremely quick, a Brazilian and the US boys. ┬áIt’s going to be a very interesting race.’
The IPC Athletics World Championships open on Friday and continue until 30 January.