Some of you might know Oscar Pistorius, a really inspiring person, possessing immense personal drive, confidence, and passion for life.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photograph of him without a smile on his face.  He is athletic, fit, and a lover of sports, his passion for sports having started when he was 11, playing rugby, water polo, and tennis.  He is active and vocal in support of his beliefs.  He is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Pretoria.

Currently, he’s best known for being a sprint runner.  He did not qualify to represent South Africa in 400 metre race during the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing because his running time was about 2 seconds higher than the qualifying maximum.  He did qualify for participation in this year’s Olympic Games, so expect to see him on the track.

Oscar was born without fibias in either of his legs and he underwent surgery at 11 months to amputate the legs at mid-calf.  He runs with the use of some pretty phenomenal carbon fibre artificial limbs designed by an Iceland-based company, Ossur.

This is where I confess with no small measure of embarrassment that I began this post with a paraphrase of that last paragraph before thinking better of it.  It’s a force of habit.  The quickest method of identifying a person is to point out a person’s most prominent physical feature, whether it be a set of beautiful eyes, their physical size, a noticeable difference in their gait.  But it frustrates me that I was so quick to define Pistorius by disability (double amputation) rather than his many abilities and positive traits (talented runner, great guy, smart cookie, etc.).

“You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

— Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

Photo Credit: Andy Hooper

This photograph of Pistorius has been making its rounds on the Internet.  The photograph puts the entire meaning behind the Olympics in perspective for me.

I’ve never been a huge fan of sports in general, but I do have an interest in the Olympics., not from a patriotically competitive standpoint, but from a perspective of “personal best.”

The Olympics would be a bore if world records weren’t being broken every time the Olympic Games are hosted.  It’s proof on a macrocosmic scale that we as a species can grow, and at a microcosmic level that each of us as individuals can grow.  Before, someone crossed the finish line in n seconds, but today someone pushed her/himself past that finish line a few milliseconds faster.  And it wasn’t done by muscle strength or endurance or breathing control, all of which are necessary but also secondary.  It was accomplished through sweat, and practice, and hard work, and effort, and faith.

It’s a testament to the value of drive and a desire to push ourselves to succeed, which bear so much more potency than simple considerations of ability or talent.  Humanity is consistently surpassing what anyone ever thought possible.

And that is why the image of Pistorius with the girl has so much meaning for me.  Because Pistorius saw himself first and foremost as an athlete and refused to be defined by a disability, now someone else who might have given up on a dream will say, “he did it; why can’t I?”  That, right there, is the very definition of a hero: someone who, through their actions, inspires us to do more, be more.

Today, I am thankful for heroes like Pistorius, who have not only achieved great things, but who inspire others to accomplish even greater things.

Do you have an inspirational story about drive to succeed?  Share it with me in the Comments.