IT WAS only a morning 400-metre heat but Oscar Pistorius took a giant stride into Olympic history on Saturday, becoming the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Olympics.
In front of another full 80,000-seat stadium for a qualifying session, the South African cut through the mild morning sunshine on his carbon-fiber blades to reach the semifinals with a second-place finish after a strong second half to his race.
His time of 45.44 seconds was important enough, but didn't quite match the proclamation from the stadium announcer at the start "This is Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius" which marked his entry into the Olympics.
At first he had to fight the international athletics federation for the right to compete in able-bodied races and, since then, he has been facing critics who still say his artificial legs give him an unfair edge at the Olympics.
"I've worked for six years ... to get my chance," Pistorius said. "I found myself smiling in the starting blocks."
Read more at the NZ Herald.