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Job done as Oscar reaches 400m semi-finals

By Gary Lemke in London

Oscar Pistorius justified his inclusion in Team South Africa’s track and field squad when he qualified for the semi-finals of the men’s 400m inside the impressive Olympic stadium on Saturday.

Pistorius was mobbed by international media after finishing second in his heat in 45.44 seconds ÔÇô time sheets here displayed that as a best for the season, but he ran a 45.20 in South Africa earlier this year ÔÇô and spent an hour conducting interviews before being able to escape the glare of the cameras and the recorders.

His effort placed him 16th out of the 49 starters and he was understandably delighted afterwards. “I came here to qualify for the semi-finals and that’s what I did. I had to race quite hard when they accelerated at the 250m mark but I then got myself into a good position and was able to take the last 20 metres quite easy,” he said, having shown the world what all the fuss over his inclusion was about.

“I was a little nervous before the race and those nerves kicked in about two nights ago when team management handed out the team bibs. I then knew that this was all very real. But this is what I’ve worked so hard for and I’m so happy. It’s a great experience being here. And this is what the crowd comes to see, athletes who train hard, work hard and give their best. Even for the long jump they make such a noise, there’s so much enthusiasm. My grandmother was here to watch me so it’s a very proud moment.”

Pistorius had walked on to the track for the first 400m heat on an overcast morning in London and wearing bib No2790 he acknowledged the overwhelming support from a crowd ÔÇô and city ÔÇô that has really embraced these Games. The 25-year-old settled down into the blocks and although the field had been reduced to five there was still a sense of expectation. Predictably, Pistorius wasn’t the quickest into his stride but he settled into his rhythm in the back straight which is where Luguelin Santos, in lane seven, accelerated and began the long kick for home.

Drawing on all his experience gained over the years, the most famous Paralympian of all didn’t panic. “Pistorius, in lane six, normally finishes the second half of the race fast,” said the stadium commentator and our man didn’t disappoint.

He quickened smartly around the bend and moved up into second spot where he tapped off and was content to hit the line in a  comfortable second, with the winner clocking 45.04.

Topping the timesheets after the first round was Belgium’s Jonathan Borlee in a national record 44.43, but one of the favourites, Lashawn Merritt of the United States, did not finish after pulling up with injury halfway around the lap.


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