December 24 - South Africa's six-time Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius is set to compete in Australia for the first time ever after he confirmed his participation in the Sydney and Perth instalments of the 2013 Qantas Australian Athletics Tour.
The 26-year-old double leg amputee, who competed at both the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, will run at the Sydney Track Classic on March 9 before taking part in the Perth Track Classic a week later on March 16.
"Having never competed in Australia before, I am very excited to line-up in Sydney and Perth as part of the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour," said Pistorius.
"It is going to provide a fantastic boost to my preparation for my 2013 season.
"Australia and South Africa are a bit unique in that our seasons domestically fall outside those in Europe or North America.
"It can be hard to track down strong competition so early in the year so when I got this opportunity from Athletics Australia I was pretty excited.
"As an athlete that continually wants to improve and impress, I hope that 2013 is better than what has been an amazing 2012 and an opportunity like this assists in making that happen."
Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to compete in athletics at the Olympics where he made the men's 400 metres semi-final and also anchored the South African 4x400m relay team in the final, where they missed out on a medal.
The South African the went on to claim two golds in the Paralympics in the 400m T44 and 4x100m relay T42-46 as well as a silver in the 200m T44.
Athletics Australia chief executive Dallas O'Brien claimed that securing Pistorius for two races is a major boost to the sport in the country.
"Oscar is the first international starter to be named for the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour and we couldn't have asked for a better first announcement," he said.
"His name is synonymous with athletics across the world and we are very excited to welcome him."
The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) chief executive Jason Hellwig has also welcomed the announcement.
"London 2012 set a new benchmark for excellence in the Paralympic Movement, and also showed us that the public's support for Paralympic sport is at an all-time high," said Hellwig.
"We know that people want to see more Paralympic sport and are inspired by Paralympic athletes, and Oscar's arrival will only help to build more interest and excitement in our movement.
"It is very exciting.
"Oscar is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in Paralympic sport and we are thrilled that the Australian public will get the opportunity to see him race.
"The fact that a Paralympic athlete is among the headliners for the 2013 Australian Athletics Tour is a sign of how much progress has been made."
Although the 2013 Qantas Australian Athletics Tour will mark Pistorius' first competition appearance in the country, he competed in Christchurch, New Zealand last year at the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships, where he won three gold medals and a silver.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
December 2012: Pistorius joins Jesse Owens in exclusive club after beating racehorse
November 2012: Pistorius receives Honorary Degree from Strathclyde University
October 2012: Pistorius talks London 2012 on Tonight With Jay Leno
September 2012: Pistorius to play in Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
September 2012: Peacock and Pistorius to star in new Channel 4 films about London 2012