Paralympics: Pistorius finally takes gold

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius wins gold in the men's 400-meter T44 final at the 2012 Paralympics. Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius wins gold in the men's 400-meter T44 final at the 2012 Paralympics. Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth

At the very end of a groundbreaking dual-games summer, Oscar Pistorius was victorious at last in an individual sprint in London.

Just before the athletics facilities were dismantled in the Olympic Stadium overnight, the man dubbed the "Blade Runner'' tore around the track to easily defend his 400 meters Paralympic title.

"It was very, very special for me it was the last event of my season, it was the last event of the London 2012 Games,'' he said after winning in a Paralympic record of 46.68 seconds. "It was my 11th time I was able to come out on the track and I just wanted to end and give the crowd something they would appreciate and take home with them.''

It was a victory of redemption and relief.

The icon of the Paralympic movement captivated the world at the start of last month when he became the first amputee sprinter to compete alongside able-bodied rivals at the Olympics.

The South African's appearance reaching the finals of the 4x400 relay and semifinal in the 400 sprint succeeded in breaking new ground, but the script hadn't gone to plan at the Paralympics until the final day of track and field action.

The 100 and 200 titles were lost earlier this week in a blaze of fury as he became embroiled in public row with the new 200-meter champion Alan Oliviera, who he accused of unfairly using lengthened blades.

After the apologies earlier in the week, Pistorius let his running to the talking, anchoring South Africa to victory in the 4X100 relay on Wednesday and collecting individual gold on Saturday.

"Sometimes there is disappointment, but that's what we look for in sport,'' Pistorius said. "We want it to be competitive and that's what it's been about.''

Despite receiving physiotherapy until 2 a.m. before the race, Pistorius won his preferred 400 event more than 3 seconds ahead of American sprinters Blake Leeper and David Prince, who completed the podium.

"I found a decent quick rhythm and then with about 180 meters to go I just, `You know what, Oscar, leave it all out on the track,''' Pistorius said. "I just turned it on ... and I came out on the home straight and heard this unbelievable roar.

"There was no way I was switching off now, and I kind of surprised myself with the time.''

It was the final day of full competition for a Paralympics that returned to its roots in London and staged the biggest games yet.

The genesis of the Paralympics was a doctor's determination to use sport in the rehabilitation of injured World War II servicemen, and on Saturday the gold medal in wheelchair tennis quad singles went to Israeli war survivor Noam Gershony.

During the 2006 war with Hezbolla, Gershony was left paralyzed in a helicopter crash from which he was the only survivor. He beat David Wagner of the United States 6-3, 6-1 to win Israel's first gold in either the Olympics or Paralympics this summer.

"There was so much pressure to bring home the gold because I knew I could do it,'' he said.

The men's blind 5-a-side football title went to Brazil for the third successive games by beating France 2-0.

The next games are in Brazil, and the Rio organizers will mark the handover with an eight-minute segment in the closing ceremony on Sunday.

The headline act, though, is British rock group Coldplay, who will perform a string of hits and collaborations expected with Jay-Z and Rihanna.

The International Paralympic Committee handed out two-year doping bans to three powerlifters on Saturday.

Two Russians, Nikolay Marfin and Vadim Rakitin, tested positive for human growth hormone a week before the start of the Paralympics on Aug. 29.

Rakitin competed in the men's under-90kg class on Tuesday, but Marfin was stopped from taking part in the 100-plus kg class on Thursday.

"This case is a world first as some of the latest testing methods were used which were only introduced prior to London 2012,'' IPC anti-doping committee chairperson Toni Pascual. "These new methods are able to detect misuse of human growth hormone over a span of weeks compared to previous methods.''

Georgia powerlifter Shota Omarashvili tested positive for steroids, and competed on Thursday in the under-60kg event but failed to complete a lift.

-AAP

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