LONDON — Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius failed to reach the Olympic final of the 400 meters, following a bad start with a slow race and finishing last in his semifinal heat on Sunday night.
The first amputee to compete in track at the Olympics never stood a chance after his slow start and finished the race on his fiber carbon blades in 46.54 seconds, .95 of a second behind winner Kirani James of Grenada.
Still, world champion Kirani James immediately walked over to Pistorius after the race and asked to trade name bibs, to keep as a souvenir. The pair shook hands and hugged.
“He’s an inspiration for all of us,” James said. “He’s very special to our sport. He’s a great individual — it’s time we see him like that and not anything else.”
Pistorius is still expected to run the 4×400 relays, which start Thursday. Last year, Pistorius and South Africa won the silver at the world championships.
Pistorius had to fight all the way just to be able to compete at the London Games, taking his case to court to force his way into the most elite open competition. Just finishing in the top 16 at the Olympics was impressive.
“For him to make it to the semifinals and continue to push, I would like to tell him to keep his head up and don’t get discouraged,” said Chris Brown, a former world indoors champion, who finished second in Pistorius’ heat and advanced to the final. “He had more pressure on him than anyone else, so I give him credit for coming out and performing under difficult conditions.”