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Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner," is a South African sprint runner who became the first amputee to compete in the Olympics in 2012. In 2013, Pistorius admitted to shooting and killing his girlfriend, South African model Reeva Steenkamp.
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South African sprint runner Oscar Pistorius was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1986. Born without a fibula in either of his legs, Pistorius' legs were amputated below the knee just before he turned one. After competing in several school sports, he took up running at 16 and within just a few months had captured a gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. Initially banned from international competition,
"I found myself smiling on the starting blocks, which is very rare."
"I'm no different. I happen to have no legs."
Pistorius successfully appealed the ruling and at the 2012 Summer games in London became the first amputee to compete in the Olympics. In early 2013, Pistorious admitted to shooting and killing his girlfriend, South American model Reeva Steenkamp, at his home in South Africa.
Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius, the first amputee athlete to compete in the Olympics, was born on November 22, 1986 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The son of Henk and Sheila Pistorius, Oscar Pistorius was the middle child of three. His family, while prominent in South Africa, were largely middle class.
Pistorius's childhood was shaped partly by tragedy. His parents divorced when he was 6, a fact that largely contributed to a strained relationship between Oscar and his father, a businessman, that continues to this day. His mother died when he was 15, the result of drug complications following a hysterectomy. Pistorius's own physical health was marred at birth. Born without a fibula in either of his legs, his parents made the difficult decision to have their son's legs amputated below his knees just before his first birthday.
Within six months, Pistorius was walking successfully with a pair of prosthetic legs. His handicap hardly slowed his large interest in sports, which spanned from cricket to wrestling to boxing.
It wasn't until he was 16, and in need of a sport that could help him rehab a knee following a rugby injury, that Pistorius was introduced to the track. His rise in the sport came quickly. In January 2004, he competed in his first 100-meter race; nearly eight months later, Pistorius, wearing a pair of Flex-Foot Cheetahs, a light-weight carbon fiber foot, captured the gold medal in the 200-meter race at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
Following his win in Athens, Pistorius competed in several races in South Africa against able-bodied athletes. Success begat greater attention, and European race organizers were soon inviting Pistorius their events.
But Pistorius's artificial legs have been a source of controversy throughout much of his athletic career. In 2007, the International Association of Athletic Foundations, the worldwide body that governs international competition, banned Pistorius from competing, stating that his artificial legs gave him an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes in the competition. Pistorius immediately appealed the ruling and in May 2008, the Court of Arbitration for sport sided with the sprinter and overturned the I.A.A.F. ruling.
After missing the cut for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, a determined Pistorius focused his training on making the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
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The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games set the stage for fierce competition among the world's top athletes in track and field, boxing, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and basketball, among other sports. Explore Biography.com's list of Olympic 2012 Athletes, from swimmers Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte to javelin-throwing beauty Leryn Franco, to swift track stars Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Sanya Richards-Ross, and more.
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