LONDON – South Africa's Oscar Pistorius will leave London with enduring memories, but no medal.
The South African 4x400-meter relay team finished last in the final on Friday night, ending Pistorius's chance at becoming the first double amputee to capture a medal in the Olympics. Pistorius, who was born without a fibula in either of his legs, became the first double amputee to compete in track and field in the Games, running in the 400 meters and in Friday's 4x400. He advanced to the semifinal round of the 400 meters before being eliminated and never had a chance to medal in the 4x400, with South Africa trailing the entire field by the time Pistorius took the baton on the anchor leg.
Despite the sputtering finish, Pistorius was left glowing about his Olympic Games. Now he's preparing to harness the momentum and carry it into the Paralympic Games, which begin on August 29.
"If I took all the positive things that I could have thought about this and multiplied them by 10, it would still not even be close," Pistorius said of his Olympic experience. "This week has just been one of the biggest blessings for me. It's taught me a lot. I've been inspired by so many athletes here. Just to have had that opportunity to step outside, it's just been absolutely phenomenal. I'm sure in a week I'm going to have the same emotions that I'm going to have in 20 or 50 years' time."
South Africa was able to take part in the 4x400 final despite not finishing its preliminary race following a collision on the track. South Africa's Ofentse Mogawane was tangled with Kenya's Vincent Mumo Kiilu during the second leg, sending both runners crashing to the ground. Kiilu continued running, but Mogawane suffered a dislocated shoulder, which ended the South Africans' run. The Kenyan team was later disqualified, and South Africa was able to appeal an entry into Friday's final.
Pistorius ran a qualifying heat in the 2011 world championships for South Africa, finishing in a pedestrian 46.2 seconds. The South Africans eventually captured a silver medal, but it was done without Pistorius in the final. At the time of that silver in Daegu, South Korea, Pistorius said he was "happy for the boys" but also expressed disappointment at not being selected by coaches to run in the final. That wish was granted Friday night.
But another medal was not to be, as South Africa fell behind early without Mogawane. The lack of a medal didn't dampen Pistorius's look forward, though.
"Rio in four years; I've got more inspiration in the last two, three weeks," he said. "I'm sure I'm going to get more in the Paralympics in the next coming weeks, so by the end of this season, I'm going to take a month off, and then the next four years is going to be good."
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