Over the years, the topic of whether or not runners with prosthetic legs should be allowed to compete in the same Olympic events as able-bodied runners has gained a significant amount of steam. On one hand, you have athletes with amazing stories who have refused to let their disabilities stop them from achieving their goals. How can anyone stand in the way of someone who has managed to become one of the fastest runners in the world despite having no legs? On the flip side, you have people like US sprinting legend Michael Johnson, who feels that prosthetic limbs can lead to an unfair advantage.
More specifically, Johnson believes that Oscar Pistorius — a South African known to many as “blade runner” — could have an advantage over the other runners in the 400-meter in London, where he will be allowed to compete in able-bodied races.
“It is a great story, he is a great individual and he has been a great ambassador for athletes with a disability and for people, and how to overcome (that) and continue to strive,” Johnson said according to The Telegraph. "Oscar sees no limits; he has no fear when competing against able-bodied athletes. So it is hard for people to understand and to accept when you start to talk about whether or not he may have the advantage.
“I consider Oscar a friend of mine, but he knows I am against him running, because this is not about Oscar; it’s not about him as an individual, it is about the rules you will make and put in place for the sport which will apply to anyone, and not just Oscar. If it was just about Oscar my position would be: ‘Absolutely, let him run.’”
Johnson, who is the world record-holder in the 400-meter and a four-time Olympic gold medalist, went on to explain that he feels athletes with prosthetic limbs are at an advantage mentally because they don’t have to worry about something happening to their legs. While many will be quick to rip Johnson for trying to hold Pistorius back after what he has had to go through, his opinion is one that is shared by many.
Inspirational stories about 12-year-olds with no arms and no legs who star in lacrosse and quadruple amputees who climb Mount Kilimanjaro make it difficult to see things from Johnson’s point of view. However, it is something that Olympic officials are going to be under more pressure to figure out with each passing year.