Athletics: Pistorius outruns 'Maserati'

South African Oscar Pistorius, who became the first disabled runner to compete in the Olympics when he ran in the 400 metres, beat Arab horse Maserati today in a 'run like the wind' race.

The 26-year-old Pistorius, known as the Blade Runner because of the carbon-fibre blades he runs on after having his legs amputated below the knee as a baby because of a congenital condition, beat the horse over 200 metres.

Pistorius took up the challenge in a bid to promote disabled sportspeople and fight discrimination against disabled people.

The South African, who retained his 400m title at the Paralympics in London following his Olympics campaign, raced on a typical athletics track surface while Maserati competed on sand.

Pistorius, who reached the 400m semi-finals in London and also ran in the 4x400m relay final to realise his boyhood dream of competing at the able-bodied Games, took full advantage of starting 15 metres in front of Maserati, which ruined its chances of winning by making a terrible start.

Maserati veered towards the rail which separated the two competitors and never recovered despite coming under a severe whipping from his rider and Pistorius came home well clear.

"It wasn't about who won tonight,'' said Pistorius after crossing the line.

"It was about showing people that those with disabilities are capable of doing great things.

"It was a lot of fun. Hopefully, this will do a lot to change perceptions of disabled people in the region.''

The race was not the first time athletes have competed against horses with some of the most notable champions such as 1936 Olympics hero Jesse Owens and 1992 Olympic 100m gold medallist Linford Christie also going up against their four-legged friends, which generally outpaced their human rivals.

British runner Huw Lobb triumphed in 2004 in a man-against-horse race in the Welsh village of Llanwrtyd Wells, raced over 35km and first run in 1980.

Cyclists too have challenged horses, top French rider Thomas Voeckler having taken them on in the past two summers at a racecourse in the Vendee although that is nothing compared to South African rugby star Bryan Habana, who fell short of beating a leopard.

- AFP

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