Life moves so fast. One day you are down, and the next day you are a champion, and people celebrate you and even want to be like you. However, you ought to be careful when you rise in life because you can come down in a blink of an eye. Today, we will look at the story of one sports hero called Oscar Pistorius, a star in sports, but fell when he made this one great mistake that I will highlight in this article.
The Early Life of Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius was born to Sheila and Henke Pistorius on November 22, 1986, in Sandton, Jo’burg. He grew up in a Christian surrounding and had an elder brother (Carl) and a young sister called Aimee. Oscar Pistorius credits his mother, who lost his life at 43 when Oscar was still a teenager, as an influence in his life. Oscar Pistorius is a white South African with Italian origins or ancestry from his maternal great-grandfather, an Italian immigrant to the Kenyan land. He is of Italian ethnicity with Afrikaans as a vernacular and is also fluent in English.
Oscar Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia in both legs. When he was only eleven months old, doctors amputated both of his legs halfway between his knees and ankles. Oscar went to Constantia Kloof Primary School and Pretoria Boys High School, where Pistorius played Rugby Union in its 3rd XV team. He played tennis and water polo at the provincial level between age eleven and thirteen. Besides, Oscar Pistorius participated in club Olympic wrestling and trained at Jannie Brooks; garage gym in Pretoria. Brooks remarked that it took more than four months before realizing that Oscar Pistorius had no legs but could do several exercises, including skipping, boxing, and doing press-ups.
In June 2003, he got a severe rugby knee injury. He got into running in January the next year (2004) while undergoing rehabilitation at the University of Pretoria’s High-Performance Centre with coach Louw. Francois Van Der Watt, a South African prosthetist, was the one who fitted his 1st racing blades. Because he could not find the ideal or the perfect running blades in Pretoria, the South African prosthetist, Van Der Watt, ordered the pair for a local engineer to make. However, as these broke quickly, Van Watt referred Oscar Pistorius to Brian Frasure, an American prosthetist, and Paralympic sprinter, for the Icelandic company Ossur to fit blades for Oscar Pistorius.
Oscar Pistorius started studying for a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management with sports science at the University of Pretoria in 2006.
In June 2008 interview for his University’s website, he joked:
“I will not graduate soon. With all the training I have had to cut down on my subjects. Hopefully, I will finish by the time I am thirty.”
Oscar’s Sporting Career
Oscar Pistorius competed in T-44, single below-knee amputees, events though he is in T-43, double below-knee amputee. Sometimes he is called the ‘Blade Runner’ or ‘the fastest man on no legs.’ Oscar participated in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and came 3rd overall in the T-44 100-meter event. Despite falling in the initial or preliminary round for the 200 meters, he qualified for the finals. He went on to win the final in a world record time of 21.97s, beating Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure, American runners, and both have single amputations. In 2005, Oscar Pistorius finished 6th in the non-disabled South African Championships over 400 meters with a world-record time of 47.34s, and at the Paralympic World Cup in the same year, he got a gold medal in the 100m and 200 meters, beating his previous 200-meter world record. At the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships, Oscar won gold in the 100m, 200 meters, and 400-meter events, breaking the world record over 200m.
On March 17, 2007, he set a disability sports world record for the 400m at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban and at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled in Jo’burg in April 2007. He became the world record holder of the 100-meter and the 200-meter events with times of 10.91 seconds and 21.58 seconds, respectively. The IAAF invited Pistorius to participate in what would have been his 1st international non-disabled event, the 400m race at the IAAF Grand Prix in Helsinki (Finland) in July 2005. However, he could not attend due to school commitments. On July 13, 2007, Oscar Pistorius ran in the 400m race at Rome’s Golden Gala and finished 2nd in run B with 46.90s, behind Stefano Braciola, who ran 46.72s.
The Awards and Accolades of Oscar Pistorius
In 2006, Thabo Mbeki, ex-president of South Africa, awarded Oscar Pistorius the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) for excellent sports achievement. On December 9, 2007, Oscar won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award, which people award for outstanding achievement and courage in the face of challenges or adversities. However, the sports authority canceled this following his murder conviction. In May 2008, Oscar Pistorius made the Time 100, Time magazine’s yearly list of the globe’s most influential people, appearing 3rd in the Heroes and Pioneers’ part.
Erik Weihenmayer, the 1st blind person to climb Mt. Everest, wrote in an essay that Oscar Pistorius was:
“On the cusp of a paradigm shift in which disability becomes ability, disadvantage becomes an advantage. Yet we must not lose sight of what makes an athlete great. It is too easy to credit Pistorius’ success to tech. Through birth or circumstance, God gives some certain gifts, but it is what one does with those gifts, the hours dedicated to training, the desire to be the best, that is at the true heart of a champion.”
After some years, in 2012, he made the list again. In February the same year, Pistorius won the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.
On August 22, 2012, people honored him with the unveiling of a big mural portraying or showing his achievements in Gemona (Italy). His life was going pretty well.
The next month, September 9, 2012, the IPC shortlisted Oscar Pistorius for the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award as an honest, fair, and uncompromising competitor in his values and prioritizes the promotion of the Paralympic Movement above personal acknowledgment. According to Director Craig Spence, an unnamed external organization from South Korea nominated him. The award went to two other people who are athletes. After the 2012 Summer Paralympics, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow declared that they would confer on Oscar Pistorius an honorary doctorate. In 2015, following his conviction of culpable homicide, the University canceled the honorary degree.
Sponsorship and Charitable Activities
In 2012, Oscar Pistorius had sponsorship deals worth over $1.5 million a year with Ossur, BT, Oakley, Nike, and Thierry Mugler. He also got involved or participated as a model in marketing campaigns. Following the murder case, the sponsors were hesitant to leave him, but sponsors started to withdraw their support after seven days. In 2008 Oscar collaborated in the launch of a music CD known as Olympic Dream. Produced in the Italian state, it comprises disco remixes of music pieces that Oscar finds inspirational, and two tracks are for him (Olympic Dream and Run Boy Run) for which he gave voiceovers. A part of the CD’s earnings of the sale went to charity. Oscar Pistorius also supports the Mineseeker Foundation, a charity that works to create awareness for landmine victims and has a program for providing prostheses for victims.
Murder of Reeva Steenkamp
In the early morning of Thursday, February 14, 2013, Oscar Pistorius shot and murdered his girlfriend at Pretoria’s home. The girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius was called Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar Pistorius knew or acknowledged that he shot Reeva Steenkamp more than two times, causing her demise, but claimed that he mistook her girlfriend Reeva for a possible trespasser or intruder. Oscar’s trial for murder started on March 3, 2014, in the Pretoria High Court. On May 20, 2014, the court adjourned or postponed the trial proceedings to June 30 to enable Oscar Pistorius to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to establish whether the court could hold him criminally accountable or responsible for shooting Reeva Steenkamp.
Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed to a request for prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s evaluation after Merryll Vorster, a forensic psychiatrist, testified for the defense that she had diagnosed Oscar Pistorius with an anxiety disorder. On June 30, 2014, the trial continued after the evaluation reports said that the court could hold Oscar Pistorius criminally responsible.
The state prosecutor said that Oscar Pistorius did not suffer from a mental disease or defect that would have rendered him not criminally accountable or responsible for the charged crime. The defense closed its case on July 8, and the court heard the closing arguments from August 7 to August 8. On September 12, the court found Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm-related charge of reckless endangerment related to releasing or discharging a firearm in a restaurant.
The court didn’t find him guilty of two other firearm-related cases or charges relating to possession of prohibited ammunition and firing a firearm via the sunroof of a car.
On October 21, 2014, he got a prison sentence of a max of five years for culpable homicide, and a simultaneous 3-year suspended prison sentence for the separate thoughtless endangerment conviction. On November 24, 2017, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a new sentence of more than ten years and five months to the fallen sporting hero.