Double amputee Oscar Pistorius saw his world 400-meter dream end Monday as defending champion LaShawn Merritt eased into the World Championships final just a month after returning from a drug ban.
Pistorius, the controversial South African known as "Blade Runner" for his carbon fiber prosthetic running blades, was making history as the first amputee to compete at the worlds.
He received a huge cheer from the South Korean crowd and mouthed "thank you" to the camera as he lined up to race. But he could not find the pace he needed, timing 46.19 seconds to finish last in his semi-final and 22nd out of 24 runners across the round.
"I would really have liked to have performed better tonight [Monday]," Pistorius said, while accepting his fate. "My goal was to make the semi-final, and I did that. It’s been a great experience. Even if I had run faster tonight, I wouldn’t have made the final. I have a lot of respect for the guys who have made the final. It’s been a great opportunity, and I’ve learned a lot from this experience."
The 24 year old, who had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old because of a congenital condition that saw him born without lower leg bones, remained upbeat about his wider achievement.
"I’m a realist, so for me to make the final, well, I wasn’t running close to those times. I never had," he said. "This is the championship I have worked for for many years. It’s been a massive blessing."
Merritt, meanwhile, appeared in awesome form as he qualified quickest in 44.76 seconds, with what seemed to be plenty in reserve.
Also through to Tuesday’s final were Belgian twins Jonathan and Kevin Borlee, Grenadan pair Kirani James and Rondell Bartholomew, Tabarie Henry of the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica’s Jermaine Gonzales and Nigeria-born Femi Ogunode of Qatar.