EMMELOORD, Netherlands Good thing Oscar Pistorius loves running from behind.
The double-amputee sprinter hasn't fully given up on competing in the Beijing Olympics, but realizes it will take a major effort to qualify, considering he was only cleared to run by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on May 16.
"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," the 400-meter specialist runner said Friday ahead of his first international race in 10 months.
He will compete in the 100, 200 and 400 over the weekend at the Dutch Open Paralympic event.
"One aspect is getting physically fit, another is getting competition fit," the 21-year-old Pistorius said.
Don't expect fast times this weekend, though.
"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."
His coach, Ampie Louw, said the January ban by the IAAF on competing in able-bodied races upset Pistorius' rhythm. The IAAF claimed the runner's prosthetic carbon fiber blades gave him an unfair edge, but that ruling was overturned by CAS.
The whole process took its toll.
"He was totally confused," Louw said.
Three weeks before CAS allowed him to run again, Louw knew something had to change.
"I told him, 'We need to get back to training.' And after the ruling he came back a totally different guy."
At the moment, Pistorius is still slightly above his ideal weight of 174 pounds. After three events this weekend, he will compete in Germany next week before more races in the Netherlands.
Pistorius plans to run in an able-bodied race on July 2 in Milan, Italy, with possibly two more before that date. After Milan, he will compete in Rome on July 11 and Lucerne, Switzerland, on July 16.
"As far as fitness goes, I am about 60, 70 percent of where I should be, of where I would like to be," Pistorius told reporters. "I can be in decent shape in the next month, month and a half."
Pistorius' style is to run from behind, starting off slow before hitting hard off the final bend.
Even though Pistorius thinks he might have a more realistic chance of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics than the Beijing Games, the unexpected court ruling has given him a target. If he doesn't qualify for the 400, he'll have a shot at making the South Africa relay team.
"You are definitely pulling out all the stops as far as diet and sleeping and focusing," Pistorius said.
The IAAF wishes him well.
"If he qualifies, I would be more than pleased to see him running in Beijing," IAAF president Lamine Diack said in a conference call.
Pistorius holds the 400 Paralympic world record of 46.56 seconds, but that time is outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 45.55. If no South African runner reaches that time, he could qualify with a "B" standard time of 45.83.
"If we are going to make it, it will be by a very thin slither," Pistorius said.
Getting on the South African relay team offers him an opportunity.
Pistorius would not require a qualifying time and could be taken to Beijing as an alternate. Six runners can be picked for the relay squad, which would need to be one of the world's top 16 teams to participate in the Olympics.
Pistorius was born without fibulas the long, thin outer bone between the knee and ankle and was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee.