English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World cha...

English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World championships Athletics in Daegu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 2011 Track and Field World Championships, there was a runner from South Africa who qualified for the semi-finals of the 400 metres by finishing third in his heat.

He then went on to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2012 London Olympics.

This doesn’t seem like such a great achievement until you learn that Oscar Pistorius had both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was a baby.

As a result, he runs with prosthetic “blades” that are attached to his legs, enabling him to run.  His training and dedication has given him the capacity to compete with the best able-bodied athletes in the world.

When I first heard about this, I couldn’t help but be inspired.

Here is a young man who despite significant obstacles has worked incredibly hard, not taken no for an answer, ignored the critics who would try to stop him and has managed to achieve phenomenal success in his chosen field of endeavour.

As I read about his remarkable story, I couldn’t help but think about all of the excuses that we make for not achieving our dreams.

From now on, when it all gets too hard and you’re tempted to feel sorry for yourself, remember Oscar.

When you want to stop because the odds are stacked against you, remember Oscar.

When you think that others have an unfair advantage, remember Oscar.

The man himself has this motto, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

It can be easy to focus on the reasons why we can’t achieve our goals.

I would like to encourage you today to focus on the things that you can do that will take you closer to achieving great things.

The similarly remarkable Erik Weihenmayer said of him, “Through birth or circumstance, some are given certain gifts, but it’s what one does with those gifts, the hours devoted to training, the desire to be the best, that is at the true heart of a champion.”

There’s little doubt that Oscar Pistorius has managed to maximise his abilities and he inspires us all to do the same.

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