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LONDON – Oscar Pistorius' Olympics have come to a close in the individual events.
The first double-amputee in Games history ran a 46.54 in the semifinals of the 400 meters, but failed to advance to the medal round Sunday night. He finished last in his heat and 23rd among the 24 semifinalists. The top eight overall times advance to the finals. Trinidad's Lalonde Gordon clocked the semifinals' fastest time with a 44.58.
While that finish eliminates him from his specialty event, Pistorius's Games aren't over. The 26-year-old is on South Africa's 4x400 relay team that is slated to run its first heats Thursday. Pistorius won a silver medal with the South African 4x400 relay in the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea.
"The whole experience is mind-blowing," Pistorius said. "My aim was to make the semifinals. It's a dream come true. Thanks to everyone for their support."
Running on carbon fiber blades, Pistorius's journey at these Games managed to capture resounding admiration, despite some detractors who suggested his prosthetics gave him an advantage over other runners. But Pistorius shrugged it off, finally achieving his dream of competing – and advancing – in an Olympics on Saturday. His first race, which saw him crouch into his starting blocks with an uncharacteristic smile, is already considered one of the enduring moments in London.
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Pistorius drew lane five in his semifinal heat, but it was clear early on that he would have a difficult time advancing. With his best time in the 400 meters being 45.07, Pistorius was lined up against five competitors in his heat who fielded better personal bests, including four with sub-45-second races. Pistorius had said earlier this month that one of his goals at these Games was to get his time under the 45-second barrier.
Pistorius ran a qualifying heat in the 2011 world championships at a fairly average 46.2 seconds. Since that meet, he has consistently run in the 45-second range, including the 45.44 seconds on Saturday that moved him to Sunday's semifinals. At the time of the silver in Daegu, Pistorius said he was "happy for the boys," but didn't hide his disappointment at not running in the final. His splits in the 4x400 heats are expected to determine if he has a chance to run in the gold-medal round – assuming South Africa can replicate its magic from the Daegu worlds.
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