By Tom Pilcher
LONDON, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Oscar Pistorius has learned from his Olympic experience at the London Games and will use it to his advantage at the Paralympics, the South African said on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old, who races wearing carbon fiber prosthetic blades after he was born without a fibula in both legs, became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, where he made the 400 meters semi-finals.
“I didn’t have patience on the day. I should have been more patient,” Pistorius told a news conference before the London Paralympic Games, which begin on Wednesday.
“At the 250-metre mark I realized I had already dug quite deep. I’ve got used to the track and it’s going to be the same passionate crowd, which I can hopefully use to my advantage.”
Pistorius is a four-times Paralympic gold medalist but does not rate his chances of retaining his 100m title despite staying in good shape after the Olympics and coming into the Paralympics in “great condition”.
“I’d love to defend my title. But I think I’ve moved away from the 100m,” he said.
“The 100 is going to be the biggest challenge. If I can finish in the top three I would be more than happy.”
Pistorius is also running in the 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay.
He ran his first 100m in 16 months last week in Warsaw and put in a good performance, but said his competitors are now more finely tuned than ever.
“The sport has evolved into something much more professional than four to eight years ago,” said the 2008 triple gold medalist in the T44 100, 200 and 400m.
Pistorius’s strongest competition in the 100m is likely to come from Briton Jonnie Peacock, who in June set a world record for single-leg amputees of 10.85 seconds, and the American Jerome Singleton, runner-up in Beijing four years ago.
“He improved by more than half a second,” Pistorius said of Peacock. “You never see that, especially in the 100m. He is a huge threat.
“Experience counts for a lot, though. Singleton is a true professional and he doesn’t let competition get the better of him. He’s been one of the only athletes to beat me in six years in the 100.
“But as long as I run the best race I can do on the day, I don’t really mind too much what happens. If the sport evolves that’s one of the best things that could happen.”
Pistorius is rooming with fellow sprinter Arnu Fourie, and he said he had a trick up his sleeve for how to beat him.
“I might have to drop some sleeping pills in his water or something,” he joked.
Having competed in the Olympics Pistorius is now eager to further the Paralympics cause.
“I believe these Games are going to change people’s mindsets about disabilities,” he said. “In the last two to three years I’ve seen a shift.
“For many years people have shunned disability, but I don’t have anything in life I’m not able to do. I don’t think of my disability, I think of my ability.”