Oscar Pistorius is a bilateral (meaning both legs) below knee amputee from South Africa. In case you haven't been watching the news or listening to the radio during the past week, you might not know that he will be competing in the Olympics in track and field.
I was completely taken by surprise when I
first learned of Oscar being named to the Olympic team. If I had been
asked to predict my reaction, I would have sworn that I would
be happy for him but would be relatively unaffected emotionally. Even before I became an
amputee, my motivation and inspiration has never been derived by those with extraordinary athletic prowess.
Imagine my surprise when upon hearing
the news of Oscar being named to the team, I broke down sobbing. I must
have looked like a fool standing in the check-out line at Costco with
tears streaming down my cheeks, giggling like a school girl with a big
old grin on my face. I was elated that somebody who has become the
poster child for amputee strength and resolve has made it to the
greatest sporting event in the world, all while wearing carbon fiber
For the remainder of the weekend, I had
chills every time I imagined him proudly walking into the Olympic
stadium wearing his prosthetics. By showing the world that he can
compete and hold his own with his bi-legged peers, he is holding a new
banner of strength and independence for amputees. For a few moments this
summer, a global discussion on amputees and our abilities, not our
disability, will occur.
We are more than our limbs and our lost
body parts. We are a group of strong and determined individuals who,
when we are given the right tools and put in the hard work, can achieve
greatness. It really doesn't matter if he wins a medal. The hope that is
being reaped by new amputees, especially children who are scared about
living a life with a prosthesis, is more precious than any gold that
will be awarded during the games. He has already won because he is
proving that all is possible!