Sunday, February 22, 2009

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius injured in boating accident

From The AP:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius sustained head and facial injuries in a boat accident, but his manager expects the South African runner will be back on the track soon.

Pistorius had surgery Sunday and was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Johannesburg hospital where he was airlifted after Saturday night's accident.

"Everything can be repaired surgically," said Anchen Laubscher, the principal medical officer of the emergency service that evacuated Pistorius. "He is fine. His brain is functioning normally. He will soon be discharged and taken home to make a full recovery."

Manager Peet van Zyl said Pistorius still hoped to compete in the 100 and 400-meter races at the Paralympic World Championships in May in Manchester, England. Pistorius is the Paralympic gold medalist in the two disciplines, along with the 200.

"Oscar will be back on the track sooner rather than later," Van Zyl said. "He has sustained no leg, arm or rib damage."

The 22-year-old Pistorius was boating with a friend on the Vaal river near Johannesburg on Saturday when the vessel apparently hit something, Laubscher said. Paramedics stabilized him at the scene before airlifting him to the hospital.

Pistorius, nicknamed the Blade Runner, had his legs were amputated below the knee at 11 months old because he had no fibulas, or calf bones.

Last year, he won a legal battle to be able to compete against able-bodied athletes after an appeals court overturned objections by the IAAF that his carbon-fiber prosthetic racing blades could give him an unfair advantage.

The IAAF ban that kept him off the track was overturned in time for the Beijing Olympics, but Pistorius missed the 400 qualifying time of 45.55 seconds. He still managed to run a personal-best 46.25 while consumed by the legal struggles.

He told The Associated Press in an interview last month that his main goal for this year was to compete against able-bodied athletes at the world championships in Berlin in August and step up his training for the 2012 London Olympics.

Pistorius planned to race in South Africa in February and March before returning to Europe for the meet in Manchester.