There is no clearer evidence of how much difference such advances can make to an athlete than when you see Oscar on the track in a competitive situation. He is indeed a superb athlete by any standard but his ownership and use of his 'blades' clearly gives him an impetus not enjoyed by some of his peers from countries where the cost would be a year’s wage or more.
Should the International Paralympic Committee therefore start to put the brake on such advances in the same way as the FIA does with Formula 1 in order to try to produce as level a contest as possible?
In the early 1970s, when I started out on my own journey with the Paralympics, I spent lots of hours pushing athletes around from event to event in wheelchairs weighing up to 35kgs to save their energy for the contest. Over the next ten years the athletes took the design and materials research away from the few manufacturers and started to develop 'sports wheelchairs' themselves. Their aim to scream down the 100 metre track in 100ths of a second rather than minutes, or do a 360 degree turn on the basketball court in the blink of an eye. All in the interests of pushing their sport and themselves to even greater heights.
By the 1980s disabled people who used wheelchairs for daily living started to become the beneficiaries. Thousands were freed from the need for a carer to get out n spite of their severe disabilities: 'chairs' were now weighing in at a few kilos. People could push themselves around for hours without the immense effort needed previously.
Quadraplegics (athletes with significantly reduced arm muscle and hand grip) appeared in the London marathon for the first time. Individuals were able to dismantle and load their chairs into their cars themselves and take to the open roads when they wanted to rather than making an appointment!
Ellie is the fore-runner of thousands more and the consequence will be that as the technology finds its way into the general population the £1000s will become £100s and others like her will find a freedom never imagined 10 years ago. Ellie will demonstrate to those who hold the manufacturing purse-strings that there is a market out there. And as with wheelchairs before, pushed by enterprising and determined sportsmen and women, people the world over will be able to aspire to a normal life or Paralympic glory.
An old term for the test of commonality in the UK used to be 'the man on the Clapham omnibus'. Ellie is the future woman running like the rest of us for that Clapham omnibus. Go for it girl, the rest of us have no chance!