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Mon Apr 21 16:56:34 SAST 2014

Pistorius unsure about medal chances

Sapa-AFP | 29 August, 2012 06:560 Comments
Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius of South Africa during a press conference in London yesterday. Pistorius is not sure whether he will be able to retain his 100m title

OSCAR Pistorius yesterday played down his chances of defending his 100m Paralympic title, suggesting that it could be the most open - and fastest - final in Paralympic history.

The 25-year-old South African, a triple gold medallist in the T44 100m, 200m and 400m in Beijing, made history earlier this month by becoming the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics.

But Pistorius said he would be happy for a medal of any colour in the 100m this time round, with the final likely to involve world-record-holder Jonnie Peacock and world champion Jerome Singleton.

Pistorius said he had been "more than impressed" with Britain's Peacock, who in June lowered the world record for single-leg amputees to 10.85sec.

"He's a huge threat. But my personal opinion is that experience counts," he said at the Olympic Park.

"Guys like Singleton [of the United States, whom Pistorius narrowly beat in Beijing] have run 11.1 in the last year.

"He's going to be just as much of a challenge. He's one of the few athletes to beat me in the 100m."

Event organisers have billed the T44 100m final as the race of the Paralympics, with predictions that all eight runners could break 11 seconds for the first time.

Pistorius said the development of athletes in the event since Athens and Beijing had been "phenomenal", particularly in terms of physique, while margins between runners are now measured in hundredths of a seconds, not seconds.

"There are six guys who could win, in my opinion," he added. "There isn't a favourite in the event and that makes it very exciting."

"The 100m is going to be a challenge for me ... If I can finish in the top three I will be happy."

He added: "It's important to note that I haven't run a 100m personal best in five years. It's not really my event.

"As Jonnie and those guys focus on the 100m, my focus is on the 400m, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to sprinting."

Pistorius still holds the T43 100m world record - for double-amputee athletes - with a mark of 10.91 set in 2007, although American Blake Leeper equalled that time this year.

The South African said he was in form, despite suggestions that he may be tired after the Olympics.

"I have had 22 races this year. The Olympics were obviously very important, as are the Paralympics," he explained.

"In essence, we run internationally from May all the way through to September. I ran my second-fastest time last year in September. It doesn't really matter.

"I'm in the right shape ... I feel in great condition to be able to perform here."

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