Oscar Pistorius insisted he was not at the London Olympics to prove a point as he bowed out of the 400 metres last night.
The 25-year-old, who made history by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete in an Olympics, finished last in his semi-final in 46.54 seconds.
The South African’s participation remained controversial four years on from winning a legal battle with the IAAF over his carbon fibre running blades, but the public support for the athlete known as Blade Runner is almost unrivalled.
The roar which has greeted him when he has been introduced to the crowd has been loud enough to rival that which has welcomed every British competitor.
Pistorius, whose aim had always been the semi-finals, said: “I am struggling to find a way to describe it. It is really humbling all the support I have had.
“It has been an unbelievable experience.
“I didn’t come here to prove a point. I wanted to do the best I could possibly do and push myself as hard as I can.
“I won’t know who to shout for [in the final]. They are such gentlemen. This has been one of the best experiences of my life.
“Just being out in front of this crowd, 70,000 felt like 170,00, was an unbelievable experience.”
The four-time Paralympic champion, who had his lower legs amputated at 11 months old after being born without a fibula in either leg, swapped name bibs with Grenada’s Kirani James after the race after the world champion approached him.
“When we crossed the line, for Kirani James to give me his number shows the kind of sportsmen we have in the Olympic Games,” added Pistorius, who will be back in the stadium for the 4x400m relay.
“We have a lot of respect for each other. For him to ask for my bib number shows what a true gentleman he is.”
James added: “Oscar is someone special, especially in our event. It’s a memorable moment for me to be out here performing with him.
“He’s an inspiration to all of us. He is very special to our sport. He’s a down to earth guy and a great individual. I thought it was a nice gesture to exchange bibs. I am going to keep it.”