Oscar Pistorius closer to fulfilling Olympic dream
Oscar Pistorius has run the 400m qualifying time for both August's World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
The South African double amputee, who competes on carbon fibre legs, clocked 45.07 seconds at a meeting in Italy.
Pistorius, known as Blade Runner, was 0.18 seconds inside the 'A' standard time and could now be selected by South Africa for the London Olympics.
The 24-year-old was cleared to compete against able-bodied athletes in 2008 after a lengthy legal battle.
Pistorius's previous personal best of 45.61 seconds was inside the 'B' standard set by the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) for the event but meant he was unlikely to make the South African team.
Every national federation can select three athletes for the World Championships or Olympics, providing they meet the 'A' standard, with only one allowed if they only meet the 'B' standard.
Before his run in Italy, Pistorius was only the fourth fastest South African - behind LJ van Zyl, Ofentse Mogawane and Lebogang Moeng - over the distance this year.
A time of 46.65secs in gusty conditions in Padua on Sunday had left Pistorius with only one more chance to qualify for the World Championships and his emphatic victory in Lignano resulted in him leapfrogging Mogawane and Moeng.
His winning time on Tuesday would have been good enough to earn him fifth place in the 2008 Olympic final in Beijing.
"It was just a dream race," said Pistorius. "I just have not been able to sleep. I must have 300 messages congratulating me.
"I am sure tomorrow when I wake up it [the accomplishment] is going to hit me. It is really humbling to know I have gotten so much support from everyone."
Pistorius is only in contention to compete at the highest level of the sport after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) overturned an IAAF ruling that his prosthetic limbs gave him an unfair advantage in May 2008.
Five months earlier a study commissioned by the IAAF, which compared Pistorius with six able-bodied athletes capable of a similar performance, had claimed that Pistorious's blades required him to use 25% less energy than his rivals to run at the same speed.
Pistorius had argued that he was running at a disadvantage, with less blood in his body and no calf muscles.
Cas concluded that the evidence was inconclusive and cleared him to compete.
A congenital condition meant Pistorius was born without fibulae - lower leg bones - and led to the decision to amputate both legs below the knee when he was 11 months old.
He preferred rugby union, water polo and tennis as a schoolboy and only took up running seriously in 2004 after being prescribed it as part of his rehabilitation from a rugby injury.
It proved a successful decision, with Pistorius having won four gold medals at the Paralympics and holding world records for disabled athletes in the 100m, 200m and 400m.