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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amputee Olympian?

I have been looking forward to this Friday for several months, and I know that the next few weeks my television will be tuned to non-stop sports. I will no doubt become invested in sporting events that I know little about and would turn off if it weren't for the platform of the competition. I simply love the Olympics!

This year is special because Oscar Pistorius is going to be competing. Oscar is a bilateral below knee amputee who has earned his slot on the Track and Field team for South Africa. His first race is slotted to be run on August 4th at 10:35 (London time). I woke up to watch Prince William marry Kate last year, so you can bet that I'll be awake and watching when Oscar makes his run!

Many erroneously believe that Oscar Pistorius is the first amputee to participate in the Olympic Games.  A swimmer by the name of Natalie Du Toit (incidentally she was also representing South Africa) competed in the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Open Water swimming. 

To be honest, I only know of Natalie's accomplishment because I happened to be watching the Beijing Olympics and I noticed she was sitting on the dock without legs. When I realized that she was a competitor in the event, I became intrigued. She received little press and even fewer accolades before the competition. In fact, her participation only garnered a brief explanation that she was permitted to sit at the start because she does not wear legs when she swims. 

Obviously Open Water swimming is not as sexy as Track and Field. The irony that a man without his biological legs has become a world class runner certainly adds to the appeal of "Oscar-mania," but I still wonder why Natalie's accomplishments received so little attention. Although she didn't have to disprove the unfair advantage accusation that has plagued Oscar, she certainly encountered her share of hurdles simply to receive permission to sit at the start of the race.

In the next few weeks we will all be bombarded with Olympic feel-good stories of triumph, and Oscar will be among those that are recounted. Most people, even those prominent within the amputee community, don't realize that we had an amputee Olympian in 2008. (I have won more than one cupcake making a wager with this tidbit of information!) While the achievements of Oscar should by no means be minimized, Natalie deserves some props as well for breaking down Olympic barriers.

1 comment:

  1. I can further add to your cupcake wagers with the tidbit that Natalie Du Toit was not the only amputee at the 2008 Olympics.... Natalia Partyka (Poland) competed in the table tennis - she has one hand :)