KATHMANDU: Olympics offer an epic anthology of personal stories that never fail to inspire us. All Olympians have their own stories shaped by their years of perseverance. The story of Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee runner, is one that has caught the attention of the world. Born with congenital absence of the fibula, both his legs had to be amputated even before he celebrated his first birthday. Yet, he competed against able-bodied athletes on his artificial carbon fibre limbs in the ongoing London Olympics. He was nicknamed ‘Blade-Runner’ for his blade-like artificial limb. Pistorius also played water-polo and tennis.
After his exposure to athletics, he never looked back. Some believed that his artificial limb gave him unprecedented advantage over able-bodied competitors. It was later revealed that he actually has to fight the windy conditions and slow start. He fought rigorously for a place at Beijing 2008. Although he won the appeal, he did not get selected in the domestic competitive format.
His presence in the current Olympics was marked historic even before he ran the 400 metres qualifier. There was more fame to follow after he qualified for the semi-final spot after coming second and leaving many able-bodied runners behind. He came last in the semi-final run but that was hardly important. Kirani James of Grenada, who won the finals of the competition, ran the semi-final with Pistorius. James, instead of celebrating his victory, went back to Pistorius to exchange the number sticker — an excellent display of sportsmanship and a salute to the courage of the double-amputee. What I rejoice about is this courageous man’s journey and the battle against his limitations and how courageously he overcame it. He might have limited his sporting career to the Paralympics where he would have enjoyed success. But he stepped forward to fight for what we as leaders would rarely attempt to do — challenge our existing beliefs.
His sporting motto is even more inspiring — “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” The statement is a lesson for the able-bodied who rarely question their beliefs. We all have these limiting beliefs that needs rethinking.
(The author is the MD, trainer and consultant at Aadhar Development Pvt Ltd. Also the founding member and consultant at Catalyst for Transformation Pvt Ltd, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)