Oscar Pistorius biography
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, 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' 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' 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, and 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 to their events.
But Pistorius' 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.
Along the way, Pistorius, who's been nicknamed "Blade Runner" and has been called the "fastest man on no legs," captured three gold medals at the 2011 IPC Athletic World Championships. Two more titles followed, in the 400-meter and 100-meter, at the BT Paralympics World Cup.
In the spring of 2012, Pistorius realized his ultimate dream when he qualified for the 400-meter race at the London Olympics. While he was eventually eliminated in the semifinal round, he secured his place in history by becoming the first amputee athlete to compete in the Olympics. To mark the occasion, Pistorius flew out his 89-year-old grandmother to watch him race. "It's just an unbelievable experience," Pistorius said shortly after his first Olympic race. "I found myself smiling on the starting blocks, which is very rare."
Charged With Murder
The track star made headlines of a different kind in February 2013, after his girlfriend, famous South African model Reeva Steenkamp, was found dead at his home in Pretoria, South Africa. According to police, Steenkamp was shot and killed on the morning of February 14, 2013, with bullet wounds to the head and one arm. Pistorius was soon named a suspect in the case.
Five days after Reeva Steenkamp's death, on February 19, 2013, during a hearing at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria, Pistorius admitted to unintentionally shooting Steenkamp at his home on Valentine's Day 2013. He went on to state that he had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder and shot her through a locked bathroom door in the home. Consequently, Pistorious faced a charge of premeditated murder that would result in a mandatory life sentence in the event that a guilty verdict was reached.
Later in February 2013, it was reported that Oscar Pistorius's brother, Carl Pistorius, is facing a homicide charge relating to a 2008 road accident during which a cyclist was killed.
On March 3, 2014, the trial for Pistorius began. In addition to being charged with premeditated murder, Pistorious also faced two separate gun indictments from incidents unrelated to the death of his girlfriend. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. Pistorius claimed that he was frightened in his home at the noise of an unknown intruder, which caused him to shoot at the bathroom door when coupled with his vulnerable state of mind without his prosthetic legs.
The only witness in the trial, Pitorius's neighbor Michelle Burger, testified that she heard a "bloodcurdling" scream from a woman on the night of the murder, followed by a man yelling for help three times. Burger also claimed to have heard gunshots. Prosecuters within the trial accused Pistorius of having argued with Steenkamp on the night of the murder, resulting in her locking herself in the toilet.