By Tom Degun

singleton_and_pistorius_20-09-11September 22 - United States sprint star Jerome Singleton has claimed that his rivalry with Paralympic icon Oscar Pistorius can be one of the greatest in sport and that he can be to the South African what Muhammad Ali was to Joe Frazier and Larry Bird to Magic Johnson.

Singleton caused a shock at the Christchurch 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in January this year when he narrowly beat Pistorius in the 100 metre T44 final to hand the blade runner his first defeat in Paralympic sport for seven years.

It was revenge for Singleton after the 25-year-old single leg amputee narrowly finished just behind Pistorius in the T44 100m final at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, and heading into the London 2012 Paralympics, the American feels his rivalry with Pistorius can become stuff of legend.

"Sparks are going to fly at the 2012 Paralympics and hopefully we're going to make it even more exciting than the Olympics," said Singleton.

"Oscar is a phenomenal athlete but it's a big rivalry.

"Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier, Larry Bird had Magic Johnson, Oscar Pistorius has Jerome Singleton.

"The Paralympics is going to be a display of the human will and the gifts that God's given us.

"Everyone has challenges in their lives and they need to overcome them.

"Just by seeing the different Paralympic athletes, hearing their stories, you're going to know what you can do and know that, at this high calibre of sport, anything's possible."

The pair are set to line-up for their highly anticipated T44 100m clash on the evening of September 6 at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in what will be the blue-ribbon race at the 2012 Paralympic Games.

It will undoubtedly be a close battle once again but Singleton feels that he has an added advantage as he has now completed his studies in applied physics, mathematics and industrial engineering and is therefore able to concentrate full-time on his training.

"The difference between Beijing and London is that I am now a full-time athlete so I have nothing to distract me from achieving the gold medal at 2012," added Singleton, who has also undertaken an internship at NASA's Glenn Research Center where he worked on the oil-free turbomachinery project that would be implemented in aiding the Mars landing.

"I'm 100 per cent focused on what I need to do out on the track and I think that makes me a major, major threat."

Singleton has a Paralympic gold medal in his collection as he anchored the American team that won the men's 4x100m relay T42-46 gold in Beijing but he could only claim silver in the same event at the World Championships in New Zealand behind a South African team that was led to victory by Pistorius.

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April 2011: Pistorius and Singleton set to resume rivalry as IPC publish athletics programme for 2012
January 2011: Pistorious suffers first 100m defeat for seven years