Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Saved by the mail - artificial limbs, Olympics, what is disabled?

Yesterday I was kind of drawing a blank about what to write about today, but then I got my Geekipedia in the mail because I subscribed to Wired. So, here's one of the entries, which I thought was very thought provoking.

Pistorius, Oscar
In November 1986, a boy was born in South Africa with no calf bones and only a single toe on each foot. Less than a year later, he had his lower legs surgically amputated. Today Oscar Pistorius runs 400 meters in 46.6 seconds, just one second shy of the Olympic qualifying time. (He's still training to earn a trip to Beijing in 2008) The story should have inspired a heartstring-tugging TV movie of the week, but it doesn't end there. Instead, Pistorius became a figure of controversy. at issue: the sleek carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs he runs on. Some rival runners charge that these artificial legs-dubbed Cheetahs-are longer than necessary, allowing Pistorius to take broader strides. Pistorius' trainers argue that the runner remains at a disadvantage; Cheetahs don't allow him to generate power in his calves, an important source of a runner's speed. The international ruling body of track and field is looking into the matter. But other questions remain. For instance, when technology gives someone without legs the potential to become an Olympic-caliber runner, can he still be called disabled?


Me again...well, actually, yes he can, since disability is a multi-faceted term encompassing body, self, environment, and others' perceptions. But what I love about this is that he's reaching for the 'regular' Olympics and not sticking with the para-olympics, which unfortunately people don't respect. I wish there were integration of disabled and non-disabled in Olympics.

7 comments:

Tera said...

It peeves me that people always find SOMETHING wrong with everything!!!

Tera said...

And another thing...why can't they take into account how much it takes to become accustomed to prosthetic limbs?

fringes said...

Excellent commentary at the end of the article, NoRe. Very thought-provoking.

NoRegrets said...

It's the whole normal/abnormal thing. Heaven forbid people be different.

Thanks F

Churlita said...

Exactly.

dmarks said...

Sometime in the year 2550, lawyers will be researching case law concerning participation by the Borg in intergalactic Olympics, and they will find this dispute on record as the earliest involving such situations.

NoRegrets said...

Ha! Though, not sure that the Borg would be friendly enough to participate in Olympics. Unless if they win, everyone else dies.