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Paralympian has run through a few walls
Danny Andrews understands another's desire to run in the Olympics.
By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published January 16, 2008
Paralympian Oscar Pistorius dreamed of becoming an Olympian, of sprinting in the 2008 Beijing Games.
But the International Association of Athletics Federations won't let him, ruling this week that the carbon-fiber prostheses the double-amputee uses would give him an "advantage" over able-bodied competitors.
Danny Andrews knows a thing or two about dreams - and about using a prosthesis to achieve them.
As a Pasco teenager, he lost his left leg in a freak accident while playing club soccer in 1996. A broken limb didn't heal properly and was amputated. Andrews was just 14.
Undaunted, he returned at 16 to play for the Gulf High School soccer team with a prosthetic leg. It was the start of what has become a gold-medal career for the now 26-year-old Paralympic athlete and world-record sprinter.
Andrews has competed against Pistorius using a similar prosthesis. He's also a biomedical engineer.
But he hasn't read the scientific data that the IAAF used in barring Pistorius from Olympic competition. That's why his reaction to this latest news was mixed.
"I would say if they can't prove scientifically it's an advantage for him, then I would be all for Pistorius competing in the Olympics," Andrews said Tuesday. "If they really have proved there is a technical advantage to it, then that knocks it out because you shouldn't be allowed to compete then."
Andrews said if he ran a time that came close to an able-bodied sprinter, he too might want to break the wall between Paralympians and Olympians. But his times haven't "even come close" to Olympic qualifying, he said.
Still, he absolutely understands the desire to break that wall.
"That's pretty much what I've attempted to do for the last eight or nine years," he said, "to go against what everybody says you can't do.
"I definitely have a lot of respect for having that kind of determination and goal. I think that's what I've made my life about."
Andrews now lives in Arizona. He's an engineer, a Paralympian training for the June qualifiers for this year's games and - in his spare time - a graduate student.
Andrews won the gold in the 800 meters in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. In 2004 he won three more gold medals in the 400 meters, the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays at the Athens Paralympic Games.
He'll be chasing more medals and new world records at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, which he said will be his last.
It'll be time, he said, to trade the life of an athlete for the career of an engineer.
"I'll definitely miss it and the traveling," he said, "but what I'll probably miss the most are the people I've spent the last eight years competing and training with."