Blade Runner, My Story
I couldn't resist this book when I spotted it at the library. I'm a big fan of Oscar, I remember watching him blow the world away in the Athens Paralympic games. Since then I've enjoyed following his career- the ups and downs of his quest to compete with able-bodied athletes (that he eventually won, did you see him in the Olympics? brilliant). But until now I've followed him in through the press, and what they chose to report, oh and on twitter (he's there as @OscarPistorious) It probably doesn't hurt that he is more than a teeny bit attractive. But obviously I'm above such things!
Reading his story about his upbringing, his exploits as a child... the things he did as a child makes my blood run cold at the thought of my children doing anything similar. He built a multi level treehouse, created a zip line to the ground from it, anchored to a Land Rover among other things. It's no wonder his parents turned a bit of a blind eye- to him and his brother and sister. He admits he was lucky- he grew up in a family where, initially at least, there was plenty of money- they had a large home and an endless expanse of space to have adventures. If he had been born elsewhere in South Africa he probably would be unknown and almost certainly wouldn't be the Paralympian he is today. He grew up in a family where his parent worked incredibly hard to ensure they made the best decisions possible for him, where he was never treated as less able, he was expected to do as much as his brother and sister, to work and play and try as hard.
I enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about the man behind the blades. His loves, his life (and even his lovelife) and the things that make him human. He has a wicked sense of humour. I can imagine that he would be a nightmare to live with being full of spontaneity and pranks.
One of the most thought provoking parts of the book though is his discussion on why he wants to compete at the Olympics and the way he explains it makes perfect sense to me.
"People often ask why I want to participate in the Olympic Games and whether it is because I consider the Paralympics second-best. I believe the two games are not mutually exclusive. It is not because I am able to compete in the Olympics that I will not compete in the Paralympics. To me the Olympics are just another sporting avenue, and like most other athletes I am eager to explore every possibility and to be present and competitive in all the top sporting arenas. I do not consider the Paralympics to be inferior, merely different, and it remains incontestable that the Olympics are the ultimate sporting event.
I am not a paralympic athlete, nor am I an Olympic athlete. I am simply an athlete and a sprinter."
I know that so many people feel he shouldn't compete at the Paralympics if he competes at the Olympics. But that logic makes no sense to me, it's like saying that Bradley Wiggins can't compete at the Olympics because he can win the Tour de France, or that Spain can't compete in the European Cup because they are the World Cup winners. Instead we should look to the day where athletes with a disability regularly compete in able bodied sports, not as a "oh that's nice he's competing" but as a contender, an equal. In fact, it shouldn't just be sport, we should expect it in life.
All that being said, come the 100m final, I'll be cheering on Team GB's Jonnie Peacock (the current world record holder).