We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. -Jesse Owens
List of African American head coaches in FBS
Mike London, Virginia
David Shaw, Stanford
Charlie Strong, Texas
Willie Taggart, South Florida
Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
This column first appeared in the January 24th edition of the Daily Dispatch. Read part two now.
2008 is an Olympic year and with the Beijing Games approaching, there will be a lot of story lines leading up to the games.
An intriguing story that is currently ongoing is about South African double amputee Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius was born with a disease that forced him to have both of his legs amputated below the knee at 11 months old.
Pistorius now competes in track and field with help from Cheetah limbs, a set of prosthetic racing blades. With these racing limbs, Pistorius has set world records in the 100, 200 and 400-meters at the Paralympics. Now, after achieving all he could on the Paralympic circuit, Pistorius has set his eyes on the world stage.
“My dream is to compete in the Olympic Games,” Pistorius told the Associated Press. “My times are close to qualifying standards. It is a goal I’m working toward.”
Pistorius wants to compete in the abled-bodied Beijing Olympics, but track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, told him to keep dreaming.
Last summer, the IAAF adopted a rule that prohibits the use of “technical aids” that is deemed to give an athlete an advantage over another and according to German professor Gert-Peter Brueggeman, Pistorius’ cheetah blades does just that.
Said Brueggeman to the AP, “Pistorius has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us.”
And the IAAF agreed — stating that Pistorius is ruled ineligible to compete in sanctioned abled-bodied competitions because his ‘cheetah’ racing blades give him an advantage. That means that Pistorius, who would still have to qualify to make the South African team, will not be able to run in the Olympic qualifiers. And without a chance to qualify, there isn’t a chance to earn the right to be in Beijing.
As a former track and field athlete, I understand the rule prohibiting technical aids because it’s like performance enhancers, but the Pistorius decision is incomprehensible. I can’t fathom how the IAAF can conclude that prosthetics give anyone a competitive advantage when the prosthetics are a means to give that person some normalcy.
The Olympics is more than about winners, losers and medals. It’s about stories. It’s about triumph. The Olympics is about Wilma Rudolph, overcoming polio to win three gold medals in Rome.
It’s about Muhammad Ali, with tremors from Parkinson’s disease, lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta.
And what bigger story can the Beijing Games have than a double amputee representing his country on the largest athletic stage possible?
One hundred meter champion Tyson Gay of the U.S. told the AP that he doesn’t see any problems racing against Pistorius.
“If he wants to run with all his heart, I think it would be great,” Gay said. “He’d be motivating a lot of other people in the world to do their best.”
Langston Hughes asked what happens to a dream deferred?
It explodes — ask Pistorius.