By VIRGILE AHISSOU, Associated Press
PORTO NOVO, Benin (AP) — South African double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius failed to qualify Friday for the 400 meters at the London Olympics.
Pistorius finished second in 45.52 seconds in the African Championships final — his last qualifying race — but was outside the 45.30 he needed to run at an international event to meet his national federation's qualifying criteria for the Olympics.
"I am obviously disappointed that my time was just outside of the Olympic qualification time by two tenths of a second," he said.
Pistorius, who runs on carbon-fiber blades, could still make history as the first amputee track athlete at the Olympics if he's selected for South Africa's 4x400 relay team.
"I had a great early start to the season, setting the Olympic qualification time and I am hoping that there is still the opportunity for me to be selected to run for South Africa in the 4x400m relay," Pistorius said.
He clocked an Olympic-qualifying time of 45.20 in Pretoria in March but had to do it again outside his home country before Saturday's cutoff to be picked for the individual 400.
The 25-year-old Pistorius made it his mission to compete at an Olympics and Paralympics in the same year. He helped South Africa win silver in the 4x400 last year in an historic first appearance for an amputee runner at the world championships.
"My race today felt good and I'm pleased to have won the silver medal at the African Championships," Pistorius said. "I had felt very strong coming into this competition as my fitness and speed has been continually improving. I was in good shape to set the time."
The relay team will be picked in July, according to Athletics South Africa. Pistorius is likely to be included after his 45.20 at the start of the season. He has been South Africa's best-performing 400-meter runner this year despite him missing the crucial second Olympic qualifying time.
Pistorius was already selected in South Africa's Paralympic team to defend his 100, 200 and 400 T44 titles in the British capital.
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