LONDON OLYMPIC ROLE MODELS
Winners and Losers
After being inundated by media commentary on Australia's performance in the 2012 London Olympics - calculating the cost per medal, disappointment at winning silver, and tales of being too tuned into social media to perform - I am buoyed by the story of Oscar Pistorius, the track and field athlete from South Africa.
Born without fibula in each of his legs, and having them amputated below his knees before the age of one, Pistorius - dubbed Bladerunner in the press - has made Olympic history by becoming the first double amputee to compete in an Olympic race.
He had to fight to get his place too, winning an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2008 to enable him to even compete to qualify for the Olympics. There were critics who thought his carbon fibre prosthetic legs gave him an unfair advantage against able-bodied athletes.
In response, Oscar said "if the legs did provide such an advantage that some of the people are claiming they did, then there would be a lot more amputees using the exact same prosthetic legs I have, running the exact same times I have -- and that’s not the case."
After coming second in his 400m heat in London, he qualified for the semifinals - by achieving this, he had already fulfilled his pre-games goal. He then ran 46.54 seconds in the 400m semi-final, and with that time finishing last, he was approached by the winner Kirani James after the race, who asked to exchange bibs with him.
Oscar also ran in the 4x400m relay team (pictured below) and was chosen to carry the South African flag in the closing ceremony.
Oscar has in the past paid tribute to his mum, who told him as a child that "a loser isn't the person that gets involved and comes last, but the person who doesn't get involved in the first place."
Good sportsmanship, persistence and someone who fights for what they believe in - these are the individuals I would like to see more of. This is the kind of extraordinary role model I want to talk to my friends and family about.
(Update: the extraordinary events that took place in early 2013 when Pistorius's girlfriend was shot dead in the bathroom adjoining his bedroom in South Africa has proven again that all that glitters is not gold.)