Pistorius: Double gold has boosted Team SA's spirits | SASCOC - SASCOC

Pistorius: Double gold has boosted Team SA’s spirits

By Mark Etheridge in London

Olympic debutant and Paralympic sensation Oscar Pistorius said on Wednesday that Team South Africa’s two gold medals at the 2012 Games has sent the team’s confidence sky high.

Track athlete Pistorius, the first double-leg amputee to compete at an Olympic Games, was addressing the media for the first time since arriving at the Games and close on 100 international media representatives were in attendance.

“The first two golds gave us unbelievable spirit and I’m so proud to be in the team with Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos.

“Chad did a phenomenal job as the youngster in the team… he really stepped up and I’m very proud of him.

“Having someone like that really raises team morale… I actually saw him in the lift this morning and he still had his medal around the neck! He hasn’t taken it off and he even slept with it. I reckon he may have to swim his next event SASCOC has done a great job of preparing the athletes .. and that all gives them a little bit of extra confidence.”

Speaking on his hopes for the Olympics where he runs the 400-metre heats on Saturday and is also part of the six-man 4x400m relay squad, Pistorius is also in confident mood. “I’d love to break 45 seconds here in London [his best is 45.07, run in Italy]. I feel really strong and have had a good season. The good thing is that I got stronger and stronger at African Championships in Benin recently which bodes well for the Games.

“In a nutshell I’m hoping to at least make the semi-final and also place better than I did at World Championships in Daegu where lack of experience showed a bit in the semi… and if I run a personal best it would be unbelievable.”

He’s also got high hopes for the relay where SA finished in silver at the World Champs last year. He ran the first round but wasn’t included in the team that came second.

“The IAAF and IOC are happy with me running any leg of the relay which is nice but I’ll stick to whatever format management decides. I think the second or third leg would suit me and with a running start I’ll add more value to the team. Three of the team have been running together for seven years now which is crucial when it comes to the relay.

“In the changeover anything can happen because you’ve got contact and people coming in at different speeds etc But Hennie [Kotze, athletics coach] has done well to get us together for training sessions, he’s a great manager, always open to suggestions and he’ll make the right decision when it comes to the final selection.”

Pistorius also says he is free of injuries and ready to rock and roll for Team SA. “I had a weird problem when we came to Europe in May. I fell asleep on the plane and was squashed up against the belt buckle. My hip was terrible and I struggled for the first two weeks but then I ran hardcore mid-45sec races at Benin and was back on track.

“These races at the Olympics are going to be tight and competitive and I like that. I’ll get stronger over the rounds.”

Pistorius, who has lost 13kg since the Beijing Paralympics where he won three gold medals, is first going to get the Olympics under his belt before focusing on the Paralympics.

“I have the world record in the 100m┬á but there┬á are lots of guys Jerome Singleton, Jonnie Peacock, by team-mate Arnu Fourie. The 100 is going to be really tough.”

Pistorius also faced a curveball when asked about his alleged relationship with a Russian super-model Anastassia Khozzissova.

He laughed it off though: “The whole Russian thing… I just don’t know where it comes from. I once read I was married to a German lady with two kids! I just try and keep my head down and focus on what I do.”

And that’s making South Africa even prouder than they already after their double-gold delight just five days into the Games.