American athlete Aimee Mullins has been a guest editor over at Gizmodo recently, and her “Racing on Carbon Fibre Legs” is worth a read on Cheetah legs, Pistorius, an ableism. Amongst the things of interest are:
As of yet, the best prosthetic available is not as efficient and not as capable as what Mother Nature gives us — or, what she was supposed to give me and South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. The revolutionary design of the woven carbon-fibre Cheetah Leg, nicknamed for its design inspiration, has been in existence for nearly 15 years — and after my initial triumphs with them in the mid 1990s, it has been the leg of choice for nearly all elite amputee sprinters. But in one instant, after Pistorius entered a summer 2007 track meet in Rome and placed second in a field of runners possessing flesh and bone legs, he and I were deemed too abled.
And then, in conclusion:
In the not-so-distant future, designers will be able to build a prosthetic leg with a chip in it that they can program to accurately simulate human performance thresholds. (Since we know that no two “able-bodied” athletes have the same bodies, and therefore what they can achieve with their bodies are different, will they average out individual “able-bodied” thresholds to get those metrics? Will they cap how fast they imagine the fastest man on earth to be at 9.58? That time was unimaginable even 18 months ago, when Bolt then set the new WR at 9.72.)
The chip used in a prosthetic that will dictate “acceptable human” metric-based output is what will be allowed in the Olympic standard; meanwhile, the Paralympics will be no holds barred. In an ironic, amazing cultural flip, you will see runners in the Paralympics going faster than those in the Olympics. Now won’t that be an interesting comment on “dis”ability?
h/t Ben Ehlers