Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Off Topic - Amputee Has Advantage

Not the slightest bit about Revit...

This evening I read an article in USA Today about Oscar Pistorius, a 21 year old track athlete from South Africa who wants to compete at the Olympics in Beijing. He just happens to be lacking his lower legs and uses either prosthetic legs or blades to get around.

Briefly, a ruling was made that says that he has an unfair advantage over able-bodied runners when using his "blades" and therefore cannot compete. His lawyers are about to challenge that ruling in an upcoming court case.

This struck me as odd...first he's missing his bloody lower legs!!! Is that really an advantage if he uses the prosthetic blades? The scientist who determined that he has an advantage has tried this out for himself?? I suggest that the folks making the decision try it out for awhile and see what kind of real advantage he has. No matter how good they fit I can't imagine it is better than a real knee and lower leg for smooth and proper "operation". Second, if he wins his case and gets to compete and does so to a victory...I can't help but wonder if this means that other able-bodied runners will now have their legs cut off just so they have a similar advantage???

I suspect his real advantage will be a strong spirit and uncommon determination to be a successful track athlete despite his difference. I say bravo...and good luck!

Sorry to wander off the Revit focus I have usually...but I know some Revit users who live in South Africa AND I've mentioned Revit a couple times in the post too!!


djh said...

i don't doubt that this man has a strong spirit and uncommon determination, however, the issue is that the blades are not a natural part of the human body, and thus can be engineered to perform better. the speed the man attains comes not from rapid nerve firings and finely trained and tuned muscles, but from the physical/chemical properties of the metal (or polycarbonate or whatever)attached to him. i'm not saying the man isn't an extraordinary athlete, but i don't believe he can be judged on exact same merits as the other olympic athletes.

that said, i begin to wonder about other athletes that use modern medicine to their advantage... the baseball pitcher that gains increased pitch speed after having a tendon or ligament replaced. the linebacker using injected painkillers to allow him to stay in the 4th quarter and make a game changing play. it's hard to say where to draw the line between natural and artificial, but, in my opinion, prosthetics of the caliber i've seen in some videos seem to be advantageous when it comes to running speed.

Steve said...

The old "bionic man", better, faster... I suppose but even if the blades offer a "springy" step the manner in which they attach can't be better than the arrangement he was born with. There must be some disadvantage in the contraption.

I enjoy sports as much as the next guy but we as a society place much emphasis on athletics. What negative difference in the world would it really make to let him run.

I say let him compete and see!

Then we'll have a mad rush to the surgeon to get a matching set of blades. It'll be a boon to the prosthetic market! (all tongue firmly in cheek)