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May 1, 2017

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Oscar Pistorius surrenders another Paralympic title

LONDON -- Surrendering a second Paralympic title in London, a chastened Oscar Pistorius was gracious in defeat this time.

Four days after suggesting a rival bent the rules to take away his 200-meter title, Pistorius — the original "Blade Runner" — didn't even make the podium for the showpiece 100 final on Thursday.

The 2008 Beijing champion had to settle for fourth place in the Olympic Stadium, even finishing behind compatriot Arnu Fourie, who earned the bronze medal.

It was British teenager Jonnie Peacock who claimed the glory, roared to gold by an 80,000-strong home crowd, in 10.90 seconds.

"For me not to be able to defend my title, but to see a performance and to be beaten by an athlete like that, makes me extremely happy," Pistorius said of the 19-year-old world-record holder. "He really epitomizes professional sprinting — not just as a Paralympic athlete but as one of the world's best.

"And to be part of that race, even if I didn't finish on the podium, was a blessing."

Pistorius, the 25-year-old double amputee, was not bothered about being upstaged in the T43 classification race by roommate Fourie, who is two years his senior and narrowly edged him a tight finish.

"I saw my name come up in third place when we crossed the line and I was quite happy ... and when I actually saw that Arnu had beaten me I think I was more happy that I came fourth," said Pistorius, who made his groundbreaking debut at the Olympics last month.

"I am going to celebrate his medal with him tonight."

The pleasure was a far cry from the seemingly bitter aftermath on Sunday in the stadium when Pistorius accused 200 winner Alan Oliveira of using lengthened blades to depose him as Paralympic champion. The Brazilian could place only seventh in the shorter sprint, a place behind world champion Jerome Singleton of the United States.

"I think the sport has been appreciated a lot more now, and we can focus on proper performances," Pistorius said. "And we saw a proper performance by Jonnie Peacock tonight ... I just got beaten by three better guys."

Richard Browne, the American who took silver in 11.03, sees a changing of the guard in the Paralympic sprints.

"It's good to be that new wave coming in," the 21-year-old Browne said. "It's a new generation — me and Jonnnie."

Asked if it was the end of his dominance, Pistorius replied: "Most definitely. I haven't dominated the 100 in about three years."

But he did anchor the South Africa team to victory in the 4x100 relay on Wednesday.

The priority in London for Pistorius has always been on defending the third of his Beijing titles: the 400 meters.

"I'm desperate for that," Pistorius said.

Just as desperate as he was to become the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, where he reached the 4x400 relay final and the semifinal in the 400 on the London track last month.

Saturday's 400 final now presents his last chance at an individual gold medal during his duel-games summer in London.

"People place a lot of emphasis on the 100 meters. For me, I place that emphasis on my 400 ... I will give the crowd the best 400 they have seen," he said.

This edition of the Paralympics has sold more tickets, generated more revenue and been broadcast in more countries than any previous.

More than 2.7 million tickets have already been sold, surpassing the previous mark of 900,000 at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. The 2012 Games have been broadcast in more than 100 countries.

Britain surpassed its medal target of 103 on Thursday evening. The hosts reached 108 with three days to go and sit in second place in the standings with 31 gold, 39 silver and 38 bronze medals.

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