Pistorius smashes 200-meter record

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Pistorius smashes 200-meter record

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius began his London Paralympic campaign in scintillating fashion as he smashed the 200 meters T44 world record in his heat on Saturday.

Pistorius ran 21.30, shaving more than half a second off the previous record set by Brazilian Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira in an earlier heat.

The 25-year-old, who is dubbed the “Blade Runner,” is defending the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter Olympic titles he won in Beijing four years ago.

Pistorius, who wears carbon fiber prosthetic blades after he was born without fibulae in both legs, became the first double amputee to run in the Olympics, where he made the 400 meter semifinals.

“I’m so happy to be back here. This crowd is as awesome as they were a couple of weeks ago. I’m happy with the time and tomorrow is the big race and I am looking forward to that,” he told Britain’s Channel 4.

“To be out here representing our country in such an amazing stadium is so amazing.”

Pistorius, who was roared around the Olympic stadium by a passionate London crowd, is now the hot favorite to clinch 200-meter gold in Sunday’s final.

His scorching time has given him confidence that he might be able to complete the clean sweep as he did in China four years ago, although he admits the 100-meter is where he will face his stiffest test.

He ran his first 100-meter race in 16 months in Warsaw recently and put in a good performance, but he knows his competitors are now more finely tuned than ever.

“A world record tonight so we will see what happens, but the 100-meter sprint is not my event,” he added.

Returning to the Olympic stadium, Pistorius said he was impressed with how London had embraced the Paralympics.

Meanwhile, Choi Gwang-geun beat Myles Porter of the U.S. to win the men’s under-100-kilogram judo event on Saturday, earning Korea a second gold medal at the London Paralympics. The 25-year-old, ranked No. 1 in the world, knocked out the 26-year-old American in 45 seconds for the gold, Korea’s first gold in Paralympic judo in 12 years.

The first gold medal for Korea at the London Paralympics was earned by Park Sea-kyun, 41, in the men’s 10-meter air pistol finals on Thursday.

Another Korean shooter Lee Ju-hee won a bronze medal in the same event. Jeon Min-jae, 35, added a silver medal in the women’s 200-meter T36 athletics event on Saturday.

Korea aims to win 11 gold medals at the London Paralympics, which will run through Sunday.

By Reuters, Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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