The final image of double-amputee Oscar Pistorius competing at his first Olympic Games was almost a shot of him looking dejected, hands on his head, with a look of disbelief on his face after failing to run his leg in the 4x400m relay. The handoff never came in the semifinal as South Africa's second leg collided with a fellow runner and fell to the track. A last place finish in the individual 400m semifinal would be the only memory of him.
Thanks to a winning appeal to officials however, the South African team was back on the track Friday and the world had one last chance to see a historic run by Pistorius. The team finished dead last in the relay, won by the Bahamas, but those final few seconds running around the Olympic Stadium track mattered as much as anything for the man nicknamed 'Blade Runner' due to his carbon-fiber prosthetics.
It has been an uphill, lengthy journey for Pisotrius to even arrive in London this month. He was locked in a battle with the IAAF -- the sport's governing body -- for years over whether he could compete and was only allowed to run a leg of the relay other than first last week. The roller coaster of emotions after every lawsuit or hearing seemed to subside when he finally stepped into the blocks in the 400 meters this week and ran a 46.54 in the semifinals, providing a memorable moment in a games full of them. Was he ever a threat to medal? No, but that doesn't make the story any less enduring.
What we should take away from Pistorius is that there is no denying the spirit of a determined individual. His legs were amputated before he turned one and yet there he was, on the world's greatest stage running with his contemporaries like any other. Gold medalist and reigning world champion Kirani James, asked to trade bibs he was so impressed with the South African's efforts.
The Olympics are about phenomenal competition but they are also about inspiration. We will cheer for another Team USA blowout in basketball but there's nothing that can compare to when someone truly and remarkably makes a country go crazy with pride, such as when Ireland's Katie Taylor lifted up a country that had been through so much the past several years. For anyone with a chip on their shoulder or a physical hindrance to overcome, what Pisotrius did -- against the best in the world -- should embolden them to do whatever they what because just about anything is possible nowadays.
There have been moments throughout the past two weeks that have allowed the world to stand up, clap and salute. Without a doubt, Pisotrius flying around track will prove to millions of children out there that they too, no matter the odds, can become Olympians one day.
This week Oscar Pistorius was not an amputee or merely just an athlete, he was an Olympian through and through.