September 2 - Oscar Pistorius is not used to finishing behind other Paralympic athletes and it showed here tonight as he reacted poorly to being beaten by Brazil's Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira, losing his long unbeaten record over 200 metres at London 2012.
Pistorius (pictured top, right, with Oliveira) has never been defeated over the distance in Paralympic competition in the eight years he has been running and was chasing his third consecutive title, only to claim that he had been beaten because of the length of the Oliveira's prosthetic blades.
On his return to the stadium where he had competed in the Olympics last month, the South African was leading the race by some distance until his rival reeled him in and beat him to the line in 21.45sec, finishing 0.07 ahead, with American Blake Leeper collecting the bronze in 22.46.
The result brought gasps of astonishment from the capacity 80,000 crowd which before the race had cheered Pistorius as loudly as they did any British competitor.
"We are not running in a fair race here – absolutely ridiculous," stormed a visibly irate Pistorius as he was interviewed trackside by host broadcaster Channel 4 immediately following the race.
"I'm not taking away from Alan's performance but I can't compete with Alan's stride length.
"The IPC (International Paralympic Committee) have their regulations and their regulations mean that some athletes can make themselves unbelievable high.
"His knee heights are four inches higher than they should be.
"We have spoken to the IPC about the length of these blades but it has fallen on deaf ears.
"Guys are coming from nowhere to run ridiculous times.
"I run at 10 metres per second and I don't know how someone comes back from eight metres behind in the home straight.
"It's not right."
The IPC initially rebuffed Pistorious' complaints and Craig Spence, the organisation's director of media and communications, even made a point of coming to find insidethegames to show us the official sheet signed by the judges that demonstrated Oliveira's blades had been approved.
"All the blades are measured and Oliveira's blades passed the test," they said in a statement.
"As far as we are concerned there has been no infringement of the rules."
They could also have pointed out that if Pistorius had run as he had the previous evening in the heat - when he clocked a world record of 21.30 - than he would have beaten Oliveira comfortably.
But they did not and, less than an hour after claiming that Pistorius had no grounds for complaint, Spence and the IPC started backtracking quickly.
Spence - with Pistorius standing next to him - said that an official meeting would be held tomorrow to discuss the matters the South African had raised about his opponent's blades.
"Following tonight's race, Oscar has shared some concerns with the International Paralympic Committee," Spence said.
"We've had a meeting to discuss those concerns, we've agreed that we will meet again with our science and medical director Pieter Van Der Vliet for Oscar to share his concerns with the IPC without the emotions of tonight's race.
"That meeting will be set up in due course.
"So Oscar has shared his concerns with us and we are going to meet to hear what he has to say."
Pistorius also started trying to rebuild his reputation, clearly damaged by his outburst on live television, by claiming that he had nothing personally against Oliveira.
"I would like to say thanks very much to Craig for taking the time," he said.
"I've sat and had a short meeting.
"And I would just like to congratulate Alan – I shook his hand outside on the track.
"He did a great performance tonight and I wish him the best.
"My focus is going to be on my upcoming races.
"I was unable to defend my title in the 200 but hopefully I will be able to do that in the 400 and maybe, with a bit of luck, in the 100."
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Britain's 11-time Paralympic champion, who was in the Stadium commentating for BBC, claimed that she understood why Pistorius had reacted in the manner he had.
"There was a lot riding on this for Oscar - 80,000 people were there tonight to watch him run," she said.
"There's sponsorship that rests on it, a huge amount of media coverage.
"There's a lot that rides on this and it's hugely important for him."
The row is particularly ironic after Pistorius fought a long legal battle with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to be able to compete against able-bodied athletes using prosthetic blades.
The IAAF originally ruled that Pistorius' prosthetic legs gave him an unfair advantage but he successfully appealed against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and has since had to face criticism from some athletes, including America's Beijing 2008 Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt, that his blades could give him an unfair advantage.
IAAF President Lamine Diack was among the crowd, as was the Duchess of Cambridge and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, to see Pistorius's defeat, arguably the biggest upset in Paralympic history.
Oliveira himself laughed off the four-time Paralympic champion's criticisms.
"The length of my blades are all right because I went through all the procedures with the referees," he said.
"I'm in the stadium [competing] because it's all cleared up and Oscar should know that.
"Since the first time I put them on I've been following the IPC rules."
The emergence of the 20-year-old from Marabá could be symbolic because he is based in Rio de Janeiro, where the next Olympics and Paralympics are due to be held in 2016.
He won a Paralympics bronze medal in the 4x100m relay in Beijing four years ago and finished third in the 100m behind Pistorius at the IPC World Championships in Christchurch last year.
His stated ambition coming into these Games was "to win three gold medals at a single Paralympic Games".
With one already to his name he will now take on Pistorius again over 100m and 400m in what are sure to be highly-charged events.
Oliveira said: "This day I'm writing my story on the Paralympic world."
To read Mike Rowbottom: Pistorius cuts to the chase in the big blade question, click here.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
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