So apparently Oscar Pistorius is going to the nondisabled Olympics! He’s the top bilateral amputee runner in the world. I’ve been super interested in him for a while now! In 2007-2008 there was a big kerfuffle when he competed in nondisabled events; it was alleged that his prostheses, the Cheetah Flex-Foot, gave him an unfair advantage. This was thrown out and he was permitted to attempt to qualify for the nondisabled Olympics, but he fell short of qualifying time. ~*Until now*~
On the one hand, good for him for being good at running! On the other hand, the implicit devaluing of the Paralympics makes me kinda sad. Like, his achievements are already really, really impressive. You don’t have to be ~good enough to participate in the nondisabled Olympics to be awesome. Pistorius is in a unique position to emphasize the skill and strength required to be a Paralympic athelete and how that’s a worthy achievement all on its own.
Then again, a large part of this is terrible ableist media reporting and a tendency to go for the questions that are the most dramatic and the least relevant. The important questions aren’t, oh noes is he cheating by using prostheses?? It’s a red herring; it’s just ableist cyborg panic with only the most tenuous basis in science. What we really need to look at is, what does it take to make disabled athletes really really successful? How to you ensure fair and equal access to technology? Hopefully this will be an opportunity to actually raise those questions in some meaningful capacity.
And maybe this will draw more attention to the Paralympics and to disabled sport? I hope. But I’m gonna be watching the races with the sound off, that’s for damn sure.