South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, the first athlete to compete in both the Paralympic and Olympic Games, qualified for the 400m semifinals in London on Saturday. Pistorius posted the second fastest time in the first heat of the day to move on to the semis. He crossed the line in 45:44, just behind the Dominican Republic's Luguelin Santos, who posted a time of 45:04. It was best time of the year for Pistorius, and the fourth fastest of his career.
Pistorius had been working towards his Olympic debut for years, finally earning entry this summer to provide one of the best stories of the Games. He spoke about his first appearance, and the nervousness coming out of the tunnel for the first time, via Joe Battaglia of NBC:
"I've been thinking about this day for the last six years...To finally be on the track, on this stage is amazing. I'm almost speechless."
Pistorius then spoke about his run, marking the Dominican and coming in with the second-fastest time:
"I set up on the starting blocks, came out of the blocks fine," he said. "On the back straight I found a very good rhythm and felt very relaxed. Santos was on my outside and he was my marker during the race. I just keyed on him and we started accelerating quite quickly very early on the second corner.
(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
The South African cruised across the line, indicating that he was pleased with his rhythm and happy with the time. Luguelin looked over his shoulder down the final stretch but the duo had locked up the one-two finish in the heat. An animated gif of the finish:
Pistorius will now run in the semifinals on Sunday. The men's 400m semis will begin at 3:40 p.m. ET with Pistorius scheduled to run in the second heat. The finals are set for 4:30 p.m. ET. Monday.
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