DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA // Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee, saw his world 400m dream extinguished yesterday as LaShawn Merritt, the defending champion, eased into the final just a month after returning from a drugs ban.
The South African, known as the "Blade Runner" because he runs with carbon fibre prosthetic running blades, was making history as the first amputee to compete at the worlds but finished last in his semi-final.
Pistorius received a huge cheer from the crowd and mouthed "thank you" to the camera as he lined up to race but could not find the pace he needed, timing 46.19 secs to finish 22nd out of the 24 runners competing in the semi-finals.
"I would really have liked to have performed better tonight. My goal was to make the semi-final, and I did that. It's been a great experience. Even if I had run faster tonight I wouldn't have made the final," said an upbeat Pistorius. "I have a lot of respect for the guys who have made the final.
"It's been a great opportunity and I've learnt a lot from this experience.
"I'm a realist so for me to make the final, well I wasn't running close to those times. I never had. This is the championship I have worked toward for many years. It's been a massive blessing."
The semi-finals were a different story for Merritt, who appeared in superb form in qualifying quickest at 44.76 secs, with what seemed to be plenty in reserve.
"It feels good to have qualified for the final and defend my title [today]. I have trained hard to come here and do what I am doing right now. I will give it all out on the track," he said.
"We shall see how the final unfolds. A medal is everybody's goal."
Also through to today's final are the Belgian twins, Jonathan and Kevin Borlee; the Grenadan pair Kirani James and Rondell Bartholomew; Tabarie Henry of the US Virgin Islands; Jamaica's Jermaine Gonzales; and Nigeria-born Femi Ogunode of Qatar.