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Monday, August 6, 2012 - Page updated at 04:30 p.m.
After London, Pistorius sets sights on Rio
By JOHN LEICESTER
AP Sports Writer
Oscar Pistorius' plan now is to go even quicker at the next Olympics.
The double-amputee sprinter said he's setting his sights on Rio de Janeiro in 2016 after finishing last in his 400-meter semifinal at the London games on Sunday night.
"In 2016, I'll probably be at my peak in Rio. I'm looking forward to that more than anything," he said. He will turn 30 in November of that year.
The South African still expects to run the 4x400 relays here, which start Thursday. Then he will try to defend his 100, 200 and 400 titles at the Paralympics.
After that, Pistorius' immediate goal is to break 45 seconds in the 400.
He ran 46.54 - way slower than his career best of 45.07 - in lane 5 on his carbon-fiber blades in the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium on Sunday, before a packed crowd that again gave him a resounding cheer. His was nearly 2 seconds slower than the winner of his semifinal, Kirani James of Grenada, the world champion.
The first double-amputee to compete at the Olympics was undone, as has happened so often, by his sluggish start - a result, in part, of not having feet to push off against the starting blocks.
His reaction time out of the blocks was the slowest of the 24 semifinalists.
"I don't have ankle articulation so the start is always going to be one of my biggest down-points in the race," he said. "It's just one of those things that I have to work on, and be as efficient at top speed as I possibly can."
"I believe next year we'll definitely get under 45," he said.
He said he could do that by further trimming his weight and with more training to improve his ability to sustain speed over a longer distance. To compensate for his slow starts, he has to run harder, quicker.
"That drifting in the first 30 meters is where my lack really happens. So for me to match some of the other guys I just have to go out very hard," he said. "So I've just got to learn and adapt that way. Unfortunately, it's just one of those things.
"I didn't run the best race. I went out very hard," he said. "It wasn't the best tactic for me. I would have had to run a personal best, anyway, if I wanted to make the final."
Still, with his solo runs on the London track, he made history and achieved his goal of making the semifinal.
"It just felt really magical," he said. "If I could predict what it would feel like or imagine beyond my wildest dreams, this was probably 10 times that.
"To step out in front of a crowd this massive, it's a mind-blowing experience," he added. "I've had support in the last couple of days like I have never felt before."
James immediately walked over to Pistorius after the race and asked to trade name bibs, to keep as a souvenir. The pair shook hands and hugged.
"He's an inspiration for all of us. What he does ... takes a lot of courage, just a lot of confidence," James said. "He's very special to our sport.
"He's a great individual and it's time we see him like that and not anything else."
Pistorius had to fight all the way to compete at the games, taking his case to court to force his way into the most elite open competition.
"For him to make it to the semifinals and continue to push, I would like to tell him to keep his head up and don't get discouraged," said Chris Brown, a former world indoors champion, who finished second in Pistorius' heat and advanced to the final.
"He had more pressure on him than anyone else, so I give him credit for coming out and performing under difficult conditions."
John Leicester can be reached at jleicester(at)ap.org or at http://twitter.com/johnleicester
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