The facts behind the ‘blade runners’ row

5 September 2012

Bournemouth University Senior lecturer Bryce Dyer has been studying advances in prosthetics technology - a well debated subject during this summer’s Paralympic games.

The debate heightened after yesterday’s front page news about Brazilian blade runner Alan Oliveira’s win against the gold-tipped South African Oscar Pistorius in the 200 metres run. At the finish line Pistorius gave Oliveira criticism by questioning the validity of the blades that took him to victory. BootsWebMD turned to Bryce Dyer who stated the opposite, “Pistorius was wrong basically”.

Both Alan Oliveira and Oscar Pistorius are double amputees who use blades to run, but the original ‘blade runner’ Oscar Pistorius believes his new rival had an unfair advantage. He believes Alan Oliveira’s blades made him taller than he would have been naturally, though Alan Oliveira's blades have been measured and meet Paralympic regulations.

In the interview, BootsWebMD asked Bryce Dyer if blade runners will ever beat able-bodied athletes to the podium. “Yes and no, it’s a bit of a complex problem”, Bruce Dyer says to the reporter. “The lengths of those limbs are defined by certain rules where they look at the length of your upper body and then there’s a ratio to work out what the length of your lower body would theoretically be.”

In Bryce’s research, he engages with both the International Paralympic Committee and prosthesis manufacturers. “Limb length is important, but it’s also how quickly you move those limbs. You could have a longer limb, but if you cannot move it through the air fast enough, you still won’t be any better off,” Bryce Dyer says.

Bryce also says that it still takes the right runner finding the right blade combination, “It’s about the athlete finding the right prescription of those blades as a package together.”

By Sofia Eriksson.

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