Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee from South Africa, was going to make history whether or not he won the men’s 400 meter race at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning–Pistorius was to be the first amputee to compete in track at the Olympics.
Now, Pistorius can count himself not only as the first amputee compete, but also the first to advance to semi-finals.
The South African athlete, who fans have taken to calling “Blade Runner,” finished second in his 400-meter heat with a time of 45.44 seconds. It wasn’t quite as good as Pistorius’ personal best, 45.07, but it was enough to send him to semi-finals.
“I was so nervous this morning. Thanks to everyone for showing their support,” The Telegraph quoted Pistorius as saying after the athlete advanced to semi-finals. “I didn’t know whether to cry. I had a mixture of emotions. It was the most amazing experience, the crowd was amazing. I saw the South African flag.”
Pistorius’ story is heartwarming, and as such you can be sure he has no shortage of fans lending their support as he waits for semi-finals, but he isn’t without critics. The Telegraph goes on to note in their report that four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson believes that Pistorius should not be allowed to compete, as his carbon fiber prosthetic legs give him an “unfair” advantage.
Pistorius isn’t focused on what the critics are saying, though–after all, he’s a competitor at the Olympics, the greatest sports arena in the world.
“It sometimes difficult to think the athletes and the friends and family of those who are here really understand what it’s about,” Pistorius said. “To be out here and to know you sacrificed ‘X’ amount to achieve this is just really mind-blowing.”
[Image credit: OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GettyImages]