LONDON (Reuters) - South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius brought the curtain down on a summer of thrills in the Olympic Stadium when he won the final Paralympic track gold medal with a dominant display in the men’s 400 metres on Saturday.
It was a happy ending for Pistorius who finished the Paralympic Games with an individual gold after failing to successfully defend the 100 and 200 titles he won in Beijing four years ago. He also won a gold medal in the 4x100 relay.
Pistorius finished nearly four seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Blake Leeper who was followed home by David Prince of the United States, while Brazil’s Alan Oliveira, who beat the South African in the 200 this week, finished fourth.
“This whole month, this whole season, I’ve had a lot of challenges and I have a lot to thank my coach for,” Pistorius, who also competed in the London Olympics last month, told Channel Four television.
“I’m so proud, this summer has been a dream come true and I couldn’t hope for anything better. It’s my 11th time on this track and I wanted to give the crowd something special that they could take home with them.”
Pistorius was the heavy favourite with a personal best more than five seconds quicker than the next fastest competitor and from the moment he built a commanding lead shortly after the halfway point the result was never in doubt.
The original “Blade Runner” said he had been unsure how Oliveira would approach the race after the Brazilian slowed down in the final 100 metres of his heat.
“I didn’t know what sort of race Oliveira would run. He went out very fast in his heat and then jogged the last 100,” said the 25-year-old of his rival, who tired towards the end. “It was a great race for me.”
Pistorius, who races wearing carbon fibre prosthetic blades after he was born without a fibula in both legs, was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics and reached the 400 semi-finals though he was disappointed not to make the final.
Things did not go smoothly in the Paralympics either with Pistorius suffering a first loss over 200 metres in nine years last Sunday before he questioned the legitimacy of winner Oliveira’s prosthetic blades.
The comments sparked controversy though Pistorius was quick to express his regret, going on to describe 100 metres champion Jonnie Peacock of Britain as a “great Paralympic sprinter”.
But Saturday belonged to Pistorius, who praised the London Games chairman and twice Olympic gold medallist Sebastian Coe and organisers for a fantastic show.
“Lord Coe and LOCOG have produced the most amazing Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been the biggest highlight of my life,” said Pistorius, who has been the face of the Paralympics.