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Double-amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius qualified for the IAAF World Championships as he ran his best ever 400m time in his last race before the cut-off date for qualification. Pistorius will now compete at the highest level of the sport against able-bodied athletes for the first time.

“The Blade Runner”, as he has become widely known, has also put himself in with a good chance of achieving his career dream of going to the Olympics next year. His exceptional time of 45.07 seconds guaranteed his inclusion in the South African team that will go to the championships in Daegu, South Korea and it also means that he has a chance of being selected for next year’s Olympic Games in London.

The time he ran for the qualifiers was a big improvement on his previous personal best time of 45.61 and well under the required 45.25. Pistorius, who failed in his attempt to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing largely due to the strain which a legal battle with the IAAF placed on his training, blew away the field in a small meeting in Liguano, Italy. He hadn’t shown great form going into the event, running relatively slow times in meetings running up to this one.

After the run, Pistorius described his achievement as “surreal” and thanked his inner circle. “So tonight was the last night to qualify,” Pistorius tweeted after the race. “Needed a 45.25. A standard, ran a 45.07sec! Thank you to my team.” He wrote in another post: “Feels kind of surreal … To have an A-qualification time in the bag for next [year’s] Olympic Games! Thank you [for] all the support!”

Pistorius only took up running as a teenager to help him recover from a rugby injury. He started training with a coach in 2004 and set his first Paralympics world record three weeks later. Eight months later, he won his first Paralympics gold medal in Athens.

Pistorius had his legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old after he was born without shin bones.

“My mother was someone who never pitied the fact that I had prosthetic legs,” he told the AP in an interview in April. “As far as she was concerned, the only difference between me and my brother was that my brother put his shoes on in the morning and I put my legs on and that’s all.”

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