By Mark Etheridge┬áin London
South Africa celebrated medals number nine and 10 at the Paralympic Games here on Sunday night but also had the shock of seeing Oscar Pistorius┬á suffer his first ever defeat over the 200-metre distance.
Charl Bouwer won silver in the 100m freestyle final (S13) earlier in the evening and it was widely expected that the Bladerunner would successfully defend the T43 title that he won in Beijing four years ago.
But it was not to be as Brazilian Alan Oliveira stormed past the South African in the last few metres to win in 21:45 ÔÇô albeit slower than the world record 21.30 that Pistorius had set in the heats on Saturday night.
Pistorius took silver in 21:52 meaning South Africa have now won 10 medals after four days of competition.
Fellow South African Arnu Fourie took fourth spot in 22.49, his second world record in the space of 24 hours.
For once the shoe is on the other foot though as its not Pistorius’ famous carbon fibre blades that are being questioned but the Brazilian’s running appendages.
Pistorius attempted to put on a brave face but the pain was plain to see. “Well done to Alan for his gold tonight and I know his blades are within the competition rules but I have never seen a guy come past me like tonight.
“Obviously I’m upset because I have never lost a 200m race before but I still can’t believe how fast he finished those final 80 metres or so.
“The Brazilians have made the blades much higher in the last few months and the result is that Alan has now been able to run this time after running high 23-second times less than a year ago. I did bring this up with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) before but…
“As for myself I tried hard and I think I still ran a good race.”
For Fourie’s part he said he had to be happy with his two days on the track. “I can’t complain about two world records in two days. Obviously we come to the Paralympics to win medals but I’ll take those two world records.”
Asked about the growing controversy over the Brazilian blades Fourie was at pains to make sure he held any grudge against the winner.
“Obviously from my side, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I was fourth and that’s that but it does seem a bit weird. I know the blades are within the current rules┬á right now and it’s not Alan’s fault.
“Maybe the formula needs to be looked at again because with all due respect the height of the blades make him look out of proportion and his times have come down so very quickly in the last year.”
About his own race: “I told Oscar I was going to burn it out of the blocks because the T43’s come on so strongly near the end. I had a great bend then I saw Oscar come past and then Alan absolutely flew past me. Then I saw Blake’s [Leeper] shadow and I tried to give it my all and keep my knees up but it just wasn’t good enough… no regrets.
“Now I can have two days rest before the 4x100m relays and the 100m final where I come more into my own.”
The only other South African athlete in evening action on Sunday saw Beijing gold medallist Hilton Langenhoven take one step closer to the defence of his 400m title when he won his heat in style.
The visually impaired Stellenbosch athlete clocked 49.86 to cruise through to Tuesday night’s T12 semi-final. He was the only athlete to break 50sec during the qualifying rounds.