Disabled or Uber-Able?

So here's the question: should a man who was born without the lower half of his legs be allowed to compete in the World Track and Field Championships?

According to Juliet Macur of the New York Times ("As Debate Goes On, Amputee Will Break Barrier") some people think Oscar Pistorius has an advantage because his prosthetic legs are lighter than natural legs:

In 2008, the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field's governing body, thought so. It ruled that Pistorius was ineligible to compete in the worlds because his prosthetic legs made it easier for him to run than competitors with legs made of flesh and bone. But he appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and won in May 2008.

But Aimee Mullins, a fellow runner and double amputee:

said the notion that Pistorius's speed came purely from technology verged on comical. She said she did not agree with Weyand and Bundle's conclusion because although athletes like Pistorius have lighter legs, those legs did not generate nearly as much force as natural legs. So amputees are still at a disadvantage, she said.

"What they are saying is that if you amputate Michael Johnson's legs, he would run a 30-second 400 meters," she said, referring to the event's world-record holder.

Mullins, the chef-de-mission for the 2012 United States Paralympic team, said the whole debate over whether Pistorius should compete at worlds or the Olympics in the first place reminded her of people who complained when Jesse Owens competed in the Berlin Games.

So is this a case of discrimination or a legitimate complaint? Is Oscar Pistorius a man with a disability or a man whose prosthetic legs make him more-than-able?

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Recent Posts

Follow Christianity Today
Free Newsletters