South African runner Oscar Pistorius has issued an apology for the timing of his comments about rival Alan Fonteles Olivieira after being defeated in the T44 200m final last night.
Paralympics: 'Blade Runner' Pistorius apologises after comments on rival
LONDON // Oscar Pistorius has apologised for the timing of his comments about the running blades used by T44 200m gold medal winner Alan Fonteles Oliveira following his shock defeat in last night's race.
The South African had demanded a rules change from the International Paralympic Committee over the length of some athletes' blades after Oliveira, wearing noticeably longer ones, came from way back to pip him at the line.
The Brazilian took gold in 21.45 seconds, leaving Pistorius to settle for silver, coming home in 21.52secs with stunned quiet from the 80,000 spectators greeting the result.
In a statement this morning, Pistorious said: "I would never want to detract from another athletes' moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday's race."
The statement continued: "I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.
"That was Alan's moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him.
"I am a proud Paralympian and believe in the fairness of sport. I am happy to work with the IPC who obviously share these aims."
The 25-year-old cannot alter the length of his blades if he wants to continue to compete in able-bodied competition because they have to conform to IAAF regulations.
At the time he claimed he was not competing on a level playing field, even though the new blades, which are about four inches taller than those used by Pistorius, are within the rules.
He said last night: "I've never seen a guy come back from eight metres (behind) on the 100m mark to overtake me on the finish line.
"The guys are just running ridiculous times and they're able to do so.
"We've known (about the longer blades) for about a month. I've brought it up with the IPC but nothing's been done about it. I believe in the fairness of sport, I believe in running on the right length.''
Oliveira hit back at Pistorius, suggesting he was trying to deflect attention away from his defeat.
He said: "He is not a bad loser, he is a great athlete. I am just sad with the interview where he said my blades were too big.
"He was bothered by my time in the semi-finals and he wanted to get to me with his polemic but it did not work.
"For me he is a really great idol and to hear that from a great idol is difficult."
The pair are on course to go head to head again in the finals of the 100m and 400m on Thursday and Saturday respectively.
Pistorius has already admitted he does not fancy his chances over the shorter distance, but the 400m is his main event - he reached the Olympic semi-finals last month - and defeat there would escalate the row even further.
A spokesman for the IPC said last night: "There is a rule in place regarding the length of the blades which is determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete.
"All athletes were measured today prior to competition by a classifier and all were approved for competition."
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