MILAN, Italy - His Olympic dream suddenly revived, Oscar Pistorius can get back to what he loves most - running.
The double-amputee sprinter from South Africa was cleared yesterday to compete in his bid to qualify for the Beijing Games.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ruling by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that barred the 21-year-old runner from the Olympics and any other competition for the able-bodied because of his prosthetic racing blades.
Pistorius broke into a broad smile to a roomful of applause when the decision was announced. He reached toward his manager, Peet van Zyl, for a victory handshake.
"I am ecstatic," Pistorius said. "When I found out, I was crying. It is a battle that has been going on for far too long. It's a great day for sport. I think this day is going to go down in history for the equality of disabled people."
He is the first to acknowledge that it will be a challenge to make it to the Olympics, to be held Aug. 8 to Aug. 24. He holds the 400-meter Paralympic world record of 46.56 seconds, but must reach the qualifying time of 45.55 to compete in the individual event in Beijing.
"My hopes are very big for the Olympics for 2008," Pistorius said. "I think the time period at the moment is very short. Obviously, I have the opportunity, so I am not going to let it go. . . . But it is going to be very difficult in order to run those times."
However, Pistorius also could be invited to join the South African relay team, which would not require him to qualify.
"We are very much hopeful that he will be part and parcel of our team," said Leonard Chuene, president of Athletics South Africa, the governing body in that country.
If Pistorius goes to the Olympics, he will compete alongside another South African amputee: Natalie du Toit, who qualified for Beijing in open-water swimming.
Pistorius was born without fibulas - the long, thin outer bones between the knee and ankle - and was 11 months old when his legs were amputated below the knee.
"Oscar Pistorius is a determined and gutsy athlete who will now no doubt put all his energy into reaching the qualification standards for the Olympic Games," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement. "If he makes it, we would be delighted to welcome him."
Pistorius will resume training in South Africa on Monday before returning to Europe on May 28. Van Zyl said that Pistorius would run in races for the able-bodied on July 2 in Milan and July 11 in Rome, and that many other offers had come in.
"A lot of the time we've had this year we've devoted to the court case," Pistorius said. "Now, when I get home, my time can be dedicated to training. I am going to have to start thinking about getting my body in shape in order to run those [qualifying] times. I am hopeful there will be enough time, but it is going to be very difficult."
Whether or not he runs in the Olympics, Pistorius plans to compete in Beijing at the Paralympics, which will take place Sept. 6 to Sept. 17.
Pistorius appealed to the court, the highest tribunal in international sports, to overturn a Jan. 14 ruling by the IAAF, track and field's ruling organization.