LONDON (AP) — Out in leafy west London, double-amputee Oscar Pistorius gets to run in relative peace.
That will all change very soon.
The South African 400-meter runner, who is set to become the first amputee to compete on the track at the Olympics, had a relaxed training session Sunday at a small university way out on the other side of the city from the bustling Olympic Park.
It’ll get far busier for the 25-year-old “Blade Runner” starting Wednesday when he makes his first formal media appearance in London ahead of his historic debut Saturday in the 400 heats at the Olympic Stadium. He’ll also be on South Africa’s 4×400 relay team.
On Sunday, Pistorius ran 200-meter splits alongside teammate Ofentse Mogawane, pounding down the tree-lined track on his carbon-fiber blades as a handful of curious staff members and students from the university watched on. He then posed and smiled for a photo for two onlookers as he made his way back to his mark following one run.
Soon, though, Pistorius will likely be scrutinized by hordes of reporters, photographers and TV cameras when he makes his Olympic debut and finally completes his well-publicized four-year quest to run at the biggest track meet of them all.
Pistorius will probably attract as much attention as Olympic greats Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps in London after coming through an IAAF ban, a court case that cleared him to run on his blades, and a yearlong qualifying battle to make South Africa’s team.
Pistorius arrived in London from his training base in northern Italy just in time for Friday’s opening ceremony. He wasn’t going to go at first because of the time spent standing around and the late finish.
Pistorius’ main emotions ahead of his historic appearance at the London Games were “a mixture of pride, happiness and anticipation,” he said on arrival. But there are also nerves. He’s waited a long time for the chance to go up against the best able-bodied athletes in the world.
The multiple Paralympic champion has been training with South Africa’s Olympic team for the past two days at the small facility in the pleasantly named “Strawberry Hill” suburb. They’ll move into the athletes village on Monday.
A small group of people watched him Sunday as he sat on the track and put on his now-famous blades ahead of the session while joking with 4×400 relay teammate Mogawane.
The workout was brief but intense, starting with 50 and 100-meter bursts before their 200 splits.
Some students gathered in a group to talk near the track, although none of them wandered over to watch the world’s most famous Paralympian. But over the next few days, millions of eyes will focus on Pistorius as he counts down to one of the most anticipated debuts in Olympic history.