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Pistorius to end 10-month absence from international racing

Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius will compete in the Dutch Open Paralympic event this weekend, his first international race in ten months.

Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius will compete in the Dutch Open Paralympic event this weekend, his first international race in 10 months.

Earlier this month, the Court of Arbitration for Sport gave the South African the green light to compete in able-bodied races.

The 400-metre specialist knows it will take major effort to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

"I'm not confident, but that doesn't change the fact that we have the opportunity and we will try to grab it with both hands," he said on Friday.

Pistorius's ideal weight is 174 pounds, but he is slightly above that mark. He said he is about 60 to 70 per cent of where he should be in terms of fitness, but aims to improve in the next month to six weeks.

"You are definitely pulling out all the stops as far as diet, and sleeping and focusing," Pistorius said.

This weekend, he plans to start slow.

"I am going to start off running comfortably," he said. "We are not going to chase any times. When you start chasing times, then it becomes different."

The 21-year-old will run in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre Paralympic events in the Dutch Open in Emmeloord before going on to Germany next week and then the Netherlands.

He will compete in an able-bodied race on July 2 in Milan, and possibly two others at a later date.

Ruling lifts runner's spirits

According to his coach, Ampie Louw, being banned from able-bodied competition upset Pistorius's training and took an emotional toll.

"He was totally confused," Louw said. But when the ban was lifted, so were his spirits.

"After the ruling, he came back a totally different guy."

He believes he is more likely to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics than for Beijing. He holds the 400-metre Paralympic world record of 46.56 seconds, a little more than a second over the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.55.

If no other South African makes the time of 45.55, Pistorius could still qualify under the "B" standard. He says, "If we are going to make it, it will be by a very thin slither."

If he is unable to qualify for the 400, he could still go to Beijing with the South African men's relay team. The team requires six runners, but would not require a qualifying time. Pistorius could be used as an alternate.

With files from the Associated Press

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