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“I think I woke up the next morning with cramps in my cheeks. I was smiling in my sleep,” Pistorius told the AP last year in an interview at his training base in northeastern Italy.

He ran the first heat of the 400 on Aug. 4 in 45.44 seconds — his fastest time of the season — putting him into the semifinals. A day later, he finished last in the semifinal heat, crossing the line in 46.54 and failing to move on, but loved it just the same.

“It just felt really magical,” Pistorius said that day. “If I could predict what it would feel like or imagine beyond my wildest dreams, this was probably 10 times that.

“To step out in front of a crowd this massive, it’s a mind-blowing experience,” he added. “I’ve had support in the last couple of days like I have never felt before.”

Pistorius later ran in the 4x400 relay, barely. The South African team was at first eliminated in the first round after a collision with the Kenyans. Pistorius was left standing on the track in disappointment because the baton never got to him.

But after an appeal, the Kenyans were disqualified and South Africa was given a reprieve, added to the final as a rare ninth team. Pistorius ran that time, anchoring his country’s team, but the South Africans ended up eighth.

“This whole experience was amazing … to step out here in an Olympic final is more than I could have ever hoped for,” Pistorius said after that race. “That opportunity to come here once again and finish today and not yesterday is a dream come true.”