Oscar Pistorius: Let's get up and running
The Year 2012 is the time when the Paralympic movement can come of age by emerging as a sporting event worthy not only of respect but admiration.
In Athens eight years ago, there were 23,000 fans in the stadium on the Saturday. Ahead of London 2012, more than a million Paralympic tickets have already been sold – a tribute to the amazing job Lord Coe and LOCOG have done.
Winning smile: Pistorius hopes to strike gold at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games
They are talking of the Olympics and Paralympics as one entity, not billing the Paralympics as a follow-up to the main event. That is an important distinction.
I'm also excited because London is an international hub in a way that Athens and even Beijing are not. It means the Paralympics will be displayed to the entire world. It can change perceptions.
Some people talk of disability athletes being 'inspirational'. But that's not the first word that springs to my mind. It is about competition, a show of human spirit. It reflects, just as able-bodied sport does, months and months of training and hard work.
On the run: The South African runner is intent on being selected for 400m at the Olympics
There will be triumph and disappointment. If a disabled athlete can only do 80 per cent of what an able-bodied athlete can do, he forgets about the missing 20 per cent and concentrates on giving 100 per cent to that 80 per cent.
It is hard-core sport. In the 100 metres at the World Championships in Christchurch in January 2011, there was only one-tenth of a second between Jerome Singleton in first place and Arnu Fourie in fourth. It was dramatic to watch the explosion out of the blocks and nail-biting to see how close it was at the finish. You got drawn into the sport rather than the disability.
Yes, Paralympians need to adapt some of their training but that does not mean their focus is any less total than that of an able-bodied athlete. They are sportsmen who happen to be disabled rather than the other way round. They would have been active, good sportsmen with or without a disability.
Leading the way: Pistorius has targeted four gold medals at the Paralympics
It was only when I was 17 that I got involved in the Paralympic world, having grown up doing able-bodied sport with my brother at school. It is a great organisation and I wish I had started in it earlier.
In able-bodied sport it is more about winning. In the Paralympics you push as hard as you can. If you manage a personal best every year, that's an improvement no matter what the rest of the field is doing.
You should not be satisfied with a victory if your performance is mediocre. It is better to come fifth in a good time.
Setting the standard: Pistorius competed at last summer's able-bodied world championships
For me, having no lower legs – after being born without fibula and undergoing amputation at 11 months old – is not a big deal. I was brought up with my mother telling my brother each morning to put on his shoes and me to put on my legs. It was never a problem. Never anything I thought about.
That said, I've learned a lot of good character traits from being how I am. It made me more determined growing up.
At the moment I'm in South Africa. The weather's good here – certainly warmer than in London. I know that because I was over there recently to do a BT Infinity advert with triathlon star Jonathan Brownlee.
'You should not be satisfied with a victory if your performance is mediocre'
I'm training hard, sleeping when I can. I don't have any niggles to worry about. I trained up until December 27 and then took a few days off over New Year ahead of what will be a pretty stressful as well as exciting 2012.
The biggest mistake is to think about the Olympics and Paralympics at the end of the rainbow. Instead, you have to concentrate on each day and week, doing the best you can all the time and not let it the whole thing run away from you.
I will focus on gaining selection for the 400m at the Olympics and winning the 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m relay at the Paralympics.
For the Olympics, I need to run 45.30 seconds, which should be achievable as I managed 45.07 last year in Livorno. My next chance to do it is next month at the Provincial Championship in Pretoria, which is my home track.
I hold the three individual world records in the Paralympics and we are five-hundredths of a second off the world record in the relay. It would be nice to steal that from the Americans!
On the broader level, the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester last year helped show how strong and competitive disabled sport is.
People who didn't know what to expect from it, went away with a different understanding of it all. That will be the case again in London, only with a far bigger reach and impact.
Oscar Pistorius is a BT Ambassador. BT is the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Visit www.bt.com/london2012