Arya Yuyutsu / Zeenews Sports Bureau
Oscar Pistorius, fondly referred to as the ‘Blade Runner’, became the first ever double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games when he took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games’ 400m run.
The South African sprinter was born on November 22, 1986, and was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia early on. At 11 months of age both his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.
With prosthetic legs he grew up surrounded by sports and loved playing waterpolo among other things. But in June 2003 he suffered yet another setback after he shattered his knee while playing rugby for his school team. Among fears that his sporting life was over at the age of 16, Oscar went through a thorough rehabilitation programme under coach Ampie Louw at the University of Pretoria.
Oscar began 2004 with his first track session and only three weeks later he won a 100m race at his school, surprisingly unofficially breaking the existing Paralympic world record!
In June that year he put on his first pair of Flex-Foot Cheetah blades, made by Swedish company Ossur, earning the nickname ‘Blade Runner’. His performances at the Athens Paralympic Games that year catapulted him into the limelight, especially because of his 200m world record run.
Soon enough, controversy ensued as people claimed the blades he wore actually put him at an advantage and competitors cried foul. The IAAF, after tests, deemed the Cheetah blades an unfair advantage, a decision that was later upturned by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) after Pistorius challenged the initial ban.
While this hampered his preparations to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the South African yearned to compete alongside able-bodied men in the Olympic Games. That dream became a reality with the London 2012 Games after he qualified for the 400m on March 17 2012, with a timing of 45.20s.
In London, Oscar did well in the 400m run, even reaching the semis where he finished 8th in his race, a big achievement for the first double amputee to compete in them. A couple of weeks later, at the Paralympic Games, he was awarded the honour to hold aloft the South African flag at the opening ceremony. While it wasn’t the most successful Paralympics for him, he did end it on a high note, winning gold in his favoured 400m run, smashing the world record on the way.
Most recently, he has appeared in the news when he was arrested for allegedly shooting his girlfriend in Pretoria on February 14, 2013. Reports suggest he mistook her to be a burglar as he shot her dead.