Oscar Pistorius had to wage a grim battle before the South African double-amputee was cleared to race against able-bodied counterparts after it was established that the prosthetic blades did not give him any undue advantage over others. He went on to reach the 400m semifinal at the London Olympics before bowing out as one of the most popular faces in the Games, hailed for his triumph over adversity.
‘The Blade Runner’ will feel a different high on Wednesday when he takes on an Arab horse in a dramatic finale to the inaugural GOALS (Gathering of All Leaders in Sport) being organised in the capital of Qatar. The forum brings together various leaders in sports to find ways to use sports as a tool for social change. The race is to give an exciting push to the “Definitely Able” campaign, to highlight the positive contributions of the disabled, particularly in the Emirate.
How times have changed? Basking in the glory as a quadruple Olympics champion at the 1936 Berlin Games, Jesse Owens was harshly suspended from future competitions after he fell foul of the rigorous amateur status upheld by the US athletics officials. The swift punishment came after Owens, hoping to cash in on his fame, agreed to a few commercial offers to race.
Owens ended up racing against horses, although it was looked down upon because he was an iconic Olympic champion. "I had four gold medals, but you can't eat four gold medals," he famously remarked.
As for the first ever double-amputee to compete in the Olympics, it would only showcase how his image has grown as a global icon who inspires people from all walks of life.
The three-day event will also be attended by 2000 delegates, headed by the likes of Carl Lewis, Ian Thorpe and representatives of various sports federations, NGOs as well as 400 students from around the world.
The writer's trip has been sponsored by the Doha GOALS Forum