Paralympic sprinter Jerome Singleton stretches while posing for a portrait during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Dallas, Texas May 15, 2012. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Paralympic sprint duel with Oscar Pistorius could be a highlight of the summer

By Phil Minshull, Special to Universal Sports

It is already one of the most eagerly anticipated sporting clashes of the summer – Jerome Singleton Jr vs. Oscar Pistorius at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London

It will be Paralympics’ version of the match up between Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt that is expected to happen a few weeks earlier at the Olympic Games.

The two heavyweights of Paralympic sprinting will be sparring for supremacy and the rather gross moniker, which both men graciously acknowledge, of being fastest amputee on the planet.

In a contrast of skills, Pistorius’ true talent lies over one lap of the track while Singleton is more of a pure dash man.

However, Pistorius competes over 100m and 200m at Paralympic championships and was dominant over all the three distances from 2008 until Singleton, who is just a few months older than the South African, beat his rival over 100m at the IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand in January last year.

The long-range view is that Singleton should be the favorite in the 100m while Pistorius could dominate over 200m at the Paralympics.

He inflicted a comprehensive defeat on Singleton in New Zealand, flying around the furlong in 21.80, while Singleton was nearly a second in arrears despite setting a personal best of 22.77.

Nevertheless, don’t count against Singleton defying the odds over the longer distance. After all, he’s been doing it for much of his life.

“I hope, through my actions, I can inspire others to push themselves to greater heights. I may not have a foot, but I do have a desire to succeed and help as many people as I can in the process,” said Singleton recently.

His desire turned a crushing 200m loss at the World Championships into victory when he raced Pistorius again a few days later and Singleton has been working hard since to improve in his second event.

There are similarities about the routes that Singleton and Pistorius took to the top.

Singleton grew up in South Carolina but, having been born without a fibula in his right leg, doctors amputated that limb below the knee, when he was 18 months old. The parents of Pistorius, who hails from near Johannesburg, faced a similar situation the only difference being that he had to undergo a double amputation at 11 months as neither leg had a lower-leg bone..

Despite their disadvantages, both men held their own with their able-bodied counterparts in high school sport. Singleton excelled at football and basketball while Pistorius was a star at rugby and tennis.

The pair then, continents apart, decided during their early days at university that track was their future.

Now their parallel paths are set to converge once again in London.