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Pistorius doesn’t run final, S Africa gets silver

DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius said Friday he wished he could have run in the 4×400-meter relay final and earned the silver medal at the world championships.

One day after helping South Africa qualify for the final at the world championships, Pistorius was left out of Friday’s race and could only watch his teammates finish behind the United States in a thrilling finale.

“Was really hard watching knowing I deserved to be part of it,” Pistorius said in a Twitter message after Friday’s race.

Instead of Pistorius, the South African team decided to go with L.J. van Zyl, who won bronze in the 400-meter hurdles on Thursday. Because Pistorius ran the heats, he got the team silver medal.

“It was difficult and everyone felt guilty,” Van Zyl said.

After making a historic breakthrough for Paralympic athletes by reaching the semifinals of the 400 earlier this week, the “Blade Runner” ran a strong leadoff leg on in the heats to help his team to a third-place finish and a South African record.

Still, Pistorius was bypassed for van Zyl.

“We decided before the heats that the slowest runner on the team in the prelims would not run the final,” Van Zyl said. “Unfortunately, Oscar’s leg was the slowest.”

And after scoring South Africa’s best result in the event, it was tough to argue against the decision.

“It was all down to the management,” said Shane Victor, who took Pistorius’ place as leadoff runner.

Pistorius wrote in a Twitter message on the morning of the final, “Haven’t Been included in the Final for the SA Mens 4x400m. Pretty Guttered.”

Pistorius’ manager, Peet van Zyl, still thought his runner should have been included.

“It was a big surprise to us. It is a disappointment, needless to say, for Oscar,” Peet van Zyl said. “It was the team management that made the call for reasons we don’t know.”

It was already considered an amazing performance for Pistorius, who had his legs amputated when he was a baby, to get into the 400 semifinals on his carbon-fiber blades before not qualifying for the final. He then ran a relay leg that got South Africa into the final of the 4×400.

The IAAF had said that Pistorius could only run the lead-off leg of the relay because athletes run in lanes. There were concerns that his blades could be a danger if he had to run in a bunch after the first leg.

Van Zyl ran the anchor leg in the final, and Victor became the leadoff runner.

Still it was another giant stride in the career of the 24-year-old runner who always refused to believe that the lack of shins, ankles and toes made him less of an athlete than able-bodied competitors.

Since childhood, he was an accomplished athlete. He became a Paralympic star and won three gold medals at the Beijing Paralympic.

Yet he always wanted to compete against the best. Now, he has a world championship silver to prove it.

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