From Oscar’s Olympics to Pistorius’ Paralympics

As he left Olympic Stadium, Oscar Pistorius stopped for a moment

and looked back.

The double-amputee runner turned to take in the crowd of 80,000

and reflect on his victory in a four-year fight to compete at the

London Games against the world’s best able-bodied athletes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray, based in

Johannesburg, has been covering double-amputee runner Oscar

Pistorius’ quest to compete against able-bodied athletes at the

Olympics for the last two years. A day after the South African ran

in the 4×400-meter relay final, Pistorius spoke to Imray about his

experiences and what is next.

”It’s something I will definitely remember for the rest of my

life,” Pistorius told The Associated Press on Saturday, thinking

back to his debut on the biggest track stage in the world. ”It’s

been absolutely phenomenal. In a way, I’m glad the pressure’s

over.”

But there’s still more business for the ”Blade Runner” in

London.

In a few weeks, the South African will be back at the same

stadium on his carbon-fiber blades for the Paralympics. He won’t be

a sideshow. He’ll be the main attraction.

Pistorius is the defending champion in the 100, 200 and 400

meters – and he’ll be expected to win four gold medals this time.

He also will be on South Africa’s 4×100 relay team.

If he wins them all, he’ll go home with more gold than Usain

Bolt.

”I’ve always wanted to be at the Olympics and Paralympics at

the same games,” Pistorius said, still glowing after running the

anchor leg in the 4×400 final Friday.

That’s soon to come. He also has ”the challenge,” as he calls

it, of defending his 100-meter title. It is going to be a big

challenge, too, because Pistorius probably faces the biggest threat

yet to his dominance of disabled running when he lines up for the

marquee race.

Since the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, Pistorius has become a

400 specialist in his attempt to compete at the able-bodied

Olympics. He also shed about 25 pounds (12 kilograms) to suit the

longer distance.

Meanwhile, Paralympic sprinting rivals and single amputees

Jerome Singleton of the United States and Jonnie Peacock of Britain

have focused solely on the 100 and unseating Pistorius over the

short race.

”The 100 is going to be the tough one,” Pistorius said. ”I’ve

really changed in the last four years. I’ve dropped a lot of weight

to accommodate the efficiency for the 400 meters and the guys have

been training hard for that 100. I’ve got to defend my title there

and it’s going to be a challenge.”

Singleton beat Pistorius at last year’s world championships,

handing the South African his first defeat in the 100 in seven

years. The 19-year-old Peacock broke the world record in the

single-amputee class in June at 10.85 seconds. Pistorius’ world

record for double amputees is 10.91.

A third challenger and another single amputee is South African

teammate Arnu Fourie. He also has run impressive times and beat

Pistorius over 100 meters back home in March.

It’s going to be a challenge, sure, but the 25-year-old

Pistorius has gotten used to them over the years.

Bans, court cases, battles to qualify – and, most recently, a

crash by a teammate in the 4×400 relay semifinals this week that

almost ended Oscar’s Olympics early.

”We won’t hopefully have those (dramas) in the future,” he

said, laughing, outside the athletes village. ”This has been one

of the most special moments of my life and I’m sure the Paralympics

later this month is going to be exactly the same for me.”

Then, it’ll be time to rest and reflect until next season. And

think about what else he can achieve.

”Next year we’ve got the world championships in Moscow,” said

Pistorius, who already has a silver medal with South Africa in the

4×400 relay from last year’s worlds. ”Looking forward to that as

well.”

Follow Gerald Imray on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP