The artificial lower limbs of double-amputee Olympic hopeful Oscar Pistorius give him a clear and major advantage over his competition, taking 10 seconds or more off what his 400-metre race time would be if his prosthesis behaved like intact limbs.
That’s the conclusion of human performance experts Peter Weyand of Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Matthew Bundle of the University of Wyoming as part of an online counterpoint debate in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
However, a team including Rodger Kram of the University of Colorado argued that although every year, thousands of athletes run 400 metres in under 50 seconds, only one amputee has ever broken 50 seconds.
Would Weyand and Bundle predict that the world record holder, Michael Johnson, would run have run the distance in 31 seconds if he had had both legs amputated? they ask.