The decision last week to allow the South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius to try out for the Olympics, widely reported around the world on May 16 and 17, ends a four-year dispute about whether his artificial legs might actually give him and others like him an unfair advantage. Ironically, advances in prosthetics engineering had been so impressive, a runner born without legs might do better using artificial legs than a full-bodied athlete. At that time, the Paris-based freelancer Marlowe Hood gave a probing account of the situation and the complex issues it raised in Spectrum Onlineâ''a discussion that's still worth revisiting.
Here's how Marlowe reacted to the recent news, taking a quick break from reporting in Burma on cyclone recovery efforts. â''When I saw double-amputee Oscar Pistorius burn up the track at the Athens Paralympics four years ago, I was so amazed I had to remember to breathe. As he crossed the finish line of the 200 meter dash with a new world record, the possibility hit me like a hammer: what if this 17-year old boy could one day run fast enough to line up against the world's top sprinter in the Olympics? That day, it seems, has come.â''