15 February 2013

Oscar Pistorius: A Paralympic legend

Artwork courtesy of Rivy11

Just a few months ago the Blade Runner was being hailed as one of, if not the greatest, Paralympian of all time after breaking the world T44 400m record on the last day of London 2012. But today, less than six months on, it has been reported that Oscar Pistorius is being charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after she was found dead in his home with multiple gunshot wounds.

For many years he has been hailed across the world as extremely influential and a pioneer for disabled sport. He became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympic Games in London as he won through to the 400 metres semi-finals in his second-best personal time of 45.44 seconds. Pistorius failed to make the final, but did make the South African team for the show-piece 4x400 metres final and went on to carry his country's flag in the closing ceremony.

Despite his Olympic exploits the 'fastest man in the world on no legs' will always be remembered first and foremost as a Paralympic athlete. He shocked the world back in 2004 as a curly-haired 17-year-old as he stormed to the 200 metres title in world record time, and from then on he never looked back.

In Beijing four-and-a-half years ago he completed an unprecedented treble of T44 100m, 200m and 400m gold, just months after an IAAF founding ruled his prosthetic limbs to be illegal in able-bodied sports. 

It was not long before that decision was rightly overturned and he wrote himself into the record books as he ran for his nation in the able-bodied 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, winning a silver medal in the 4 x 400m relay, although he did not run in the final.

Oscar Pistorius’ Paralympic medal record
Athens 2004
T44 200m
T44 100m
Beijing 2008
T44 100, 200 + 400m
London 2012
T44 400m + T42-46 4 x 100m
T44 200m

Pistorius' performances in London were not quite as good as he might have hoped for, even though he would have actually been pleased with his bronze medal in the 100m. His emphatic Paralympic world record in the 400m was breath-taking, and the fact that his time of 46.68 seconds broke the record and his personal best  against able-bodied athletes is 45.07 proves how far above his competitors he has been. 

There was a shock in the 200m, as he was knocked into silver by Brazilian Alan Oliveira. After complaining about the length of his opponents blades, he later apologised for the comments and said that he was rash in the heat of the moment. 

His standing, especially in South Africa, has been increased by his outstanding charity work and multiple public appearances. However after this morning's events advertising featuring the 26-year-old has already been removed all over South Africa.

Some reports have suggested that Pistorius shot 29-year-old model Steenkamp by accident thinking that she was an intruder. He tweeted three months ago: "Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!". 

There is a very high crime rate in South Africa and many of the middle-class people who live in high-security complexes live in fear. However the South African police have expressed surprise at these rumours and have confirmed that they have nothing to do with them. 

Tomorrow morning (07:00 GMT) Pistorius will appear in a magistrate's court as he attempts to claim bail, but the police have said that they will oppose it. 

On a purely sporting note the 'Blade Runner' will always be remembered as one of the greatest Paralympians ever, although the coming months will decide what legacy he leaves behind. 

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  1. very sad i feel sorry for both families,sometimes we have to think before we act,nw this guy is goner rot in jail.

  2. Yes it is a real shame. It will be interesting to hear what exactly happened.