Paralympic Runner Competes with Horse and Wins

January 11, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. differently abled (adj.) 
[dif-er-uhnt-li, dif-ruhnt-li]  [ey-buhld]–disabled
Example: Public restrooms usually have separate area for differently-abled people.

2. head start (n.) [hed] [stahrt]– an advantage given, often to racers, to start earlier than others
Example: The one-legged man was given a head start to make the race fair.

3. hurdle (n.) [hur-dl]– a difficulty or an obstacle
Example: Lack of practice is a hurdle in winning a sports competition.

4. underestimate (v.) [v. uhn-der-es-tuh-meyt; n. uhn-der-es-tuh-mit, -meyt]– to have low expectations of somebody or someone
Example:   The coach audience underestimated the young racer, thinking he is weak when actually, he is fast and strong.

5. symbol (n.) [sim-buhl]– an object that stands for or represents something else
Example: Red is the symbol for love in most cultures.

Read the text below.

Oscar Pistorius, a 26-year-old South African runner with artificial legs, outran a champion race horse to raise awareness for people who are differently abled.

He is called “Blade Runner” and the “fastest man on no legs’” because he runs using carbon fiber blades as his legs. He caught the public’s attention last year’s London Olympics as the first amputee track athlete to join the Olympic Games.

Pistorius competed with a champion Arabian race horse in Doha, Qatar. Pistorius was given a 15-meter head start before the horse was set out. He was able to defeat the horse by a few seconds.

His match against the four-legged animal is one of the events of the “Definitely Able” campaign initiated by the Qatar Olympic and Paralympic Committees. The campaign aims to show that disability is not a hurdle in achieving one’s dreams.

After the race, Pistorius commented that the event was done to show support for people with disabilities and to prove that they should not be underestimated.

He added that the Arab horse is a symbol of strength in Qatar. He hopes events like the race would change how people in the Arab region think of the disabled.

Pistorius was born lacking bones in his legs, which had to be removed when he was only 11 months old.  Even without legs, he became very athletic and started running at the age of 16. He won a gold medal in the T44200-meter race in the 2004 Paralympic Games. His victory that year broke the world record for the event.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think that Pistorius’ story is inspiring? Why or why not?
·         Why is it important to raise awareness about the amazing things differently abled people can do?

Discussion B

·         Do you think people with disabilities are sometimes treated unfairly? What makes you say so?
·         Should people focus on things they can do rather than on things they cannot do? Please explain your answer.


January 11, 2013