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Double Amputee Set To Compete In Olympics; Inspires Others

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By Jericka Duncan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Oscar Pistorius didn’t get off to a great start.

As a baby, doctors amputated both legs below the knee because of a rare disorder. He has relied on prosthetic legs to get around his entire life. 

In a few weeks, all eyes will be on his legs as the 25-year-old from South Africa becomes the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics. He will run the 400 meter dash and he’s a part of the 400 meter relay team.

“When I see someone like Oscar I say, ‘he’s doing it’,” said 51-year-old Ray Viscome of New York City, who is missing part of his left leg.

Around the world, amputees like Viscome have been inspired by Oscar’s rare journey. Viscome has participated in a Philadelphia marathon and two Iron Man competitions.

“Inside, Oscar’s a true athlete, and I consider myself a true athlete too because there is a desire in there that you truly want to excel,” said Viscome.

A question that continues to come up is whether Pistorius and other athletes who use prosthetic limbs have an advantage?

Some have argued Pistorius has an advantage through the use of his springy, curved, light-weight carbon fiber blades.

“You could look at the idea and say he has no lower limbs, so he’s lighter, and if he’s lighter you have to do less work,” said Dr. Steven Stanhope, who studies Biomechanics and Body Movement Science at the University of Delaware.

In his opinion, Pistorius does not benefit more than his competitors by using prosthetic limbs.

“He’s lighter because he doesn’t have those lower limbs because those lower limbs would normally contain muscle and those muscles are motors,” Dr. Standhope said.

In fact, Stanhope says compared to the runners who have natural limbs, he thinks Pistorius is actually at a disadvantage.

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