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Research by SMU professor shows blades give Pistorius edge


The following is from the August 11, 2012, edition of The Dallas Morning News and focuses on research by Peter Weyand, associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics at SMU.

August 15, 2012

By Tim Cowlishaw
The Dallas Morning News

Four years ago, Dr. Peter Weyand’s research at Rice University helped overturn a ban that kept Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee from South Africa, from using his “blade runners” to compete on the same track with the world’s finest athletes.

Pistorius made history this past week in London where he reached the semifinals of the 400 meters and ran the anchor leg for the South African team in the men’s 4x400 relay.

Today Weyand is an associate professor at SMU. His locomotor performance laboratory sits just off campus. And the man who helped make Pistorius’ barrier-breaking trip to the Olympics possible isn’t sure that’s such a good thing.

Weyand contends that Pistorius has a significant advantage over “intact limb” runners. Former gold medal winner Michael Johnson made that statement before the London Games and was, essentially, laughed at.

In Weyand’s case, he has years of data to support it.

“The first order of business is to acknowledge his achievement — his Olympic qualification,” Weyand said. “We all like him. What he’s done is remarkable. It’s a story you couldn’t make up.

“But there’s a legitimate performance question, and we got involved on a scientific level to evaluate that question.”

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