A man born without functioning legs ran the 400 meters in 45.07 seconds on July 19, 2011, the fastest time recorded by an amputee. The ripple effects of this historic achievement may initiate a paradigm shift in how we view our bodies.
DAEGU, South Korea -- Here was the moment, the only moment that truly matters beyond the four walls of a flagging sport. It was 8:41 Sunday night in a stadium set among green hillsides outside this industrial city. The seats were no more than two-thirds filled, but the halfhearted turnout of apathetic locals whose leaders simply bought a world championship event, is more than balanced by millions watching (or readying to watch later) on televisions and computer screens around the world.
One year out from the London Olympics, Caster Semenya is perhaps the biggest wild card in the history of track and field. Will we see the Semenya of 2009 who looked unbeatable and destined to break the nearly three decade old 800-meter world record? Or has the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) forced her to undergo some feminizing medical treatment, in order to be allowed to compete as a woman, that will progressively slow her down? Semenya is simply an unknown, just as she was coming into the '09 world track and field championships.
If Henke and Sheila Pistorius ever unleashed upon their son, Oscar, the adage "you can grow up to be whatever you want," they might have crossed their fingers behind their backs and categorically eliminated certain professions.
Eighteen months ago, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius -- famously known as the "Blade Runner" because he was born without fibulas and runs on two crescent, carbon fiber lower legs -- made global headlines when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned a ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations and allowed Pistorius to compete against able-bodied runners in international competition.