At the 2012 London
Olympics, before 80,000 roaring fans and a constellation of camera
flashes, it took Oscar Pistorius 45.44 seconds to become a global icon.
His sprint around the 400m track was the first time in history that a double-amputee had raced at the Olympic Games.
The race capped an
Olympian triumph over adversity for Pistorius. His journey from disabled
child to world-class athlete seemed to embody the very best of sporting
endeavour and the human spirit.
Then on Valentine’s Day in 2013 his achievements were just as quickly demolished.
early hours of the morning at his upmarket Pretoria home, he shot and
killed his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, later saying he
believed her to be an intruder.
At his trial in 2014, he sat for months in a windowless courtroom, and watched as his world was washed away.
His sparkling career was cut short, sponsors dumped him and he was forced to sell his homes amid mounting legal bills.
conviction for manslaughter put him in jail for a year but his crime was
then upgraded to murder on appeal and today he was sentenced to 6
athlete had sobbed, shaken and vomited in the dock as details of his
lover’s brutal death were examined in excruciating detail during his
trial while the eyes of the world were transfixed.
“Blade Runner” — an epithet earned for his trademark prosthetic legs
that powered him to fame as a Paralympic gold medallist — became the
“He’s not only broke, but he is broken, there is nothing left,” lawyer Barry Roux told his sentencing hearing last month.
Time and again during his trial, the court was told about “two Oscars” — one a hero, the other a victim.
high-profile proceedings also exposed the 29-year-old’s darker side:
offering glimpses of a dangerously volatile man with a penchant for
guns, beautiful women and fast cars.
2009, he spent a night in jail after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old
woman at a party in a case that was settled out of court.
years later, he was accused of firing a gun through the sunroof of an
ex-girlfriend’s moving car, although a court found there was not enough
evidence to convict him on that charge.
Weeks before he shot Steenkamp, he discharged a gun by accident at a Johannesburg restaurant.
“Oscar is certainly not what people think he is,” ex-lover and trial witness Samantha Taylor has said….Pistorius
has long been open about his love for guns. The sprinter slept with a
pistol under his bed at his home in a high-security estate for fear of
held in Amsterdam after gunpowder residue was detected on his
prosthetics, he also took a New York Times journalist interviewing him
to a shooting range.
writer described him driving at 250 kilometres (155 miles) an hour,
double the speed limit, and referred to Pistorius as having “a fierce,
even frenzied need to take on the world at maximum speed and with
passion for motorbikes, adrenaline and speed is well documented. “He
likes fast cars. He is just built for speed,” his trainer Jannie Brooks
He also crashed his boat on a river, breaking two ribs, an eye socket and his jaw. Empty alcohol bottles were found in the boat.
He once owned two white tigers but sold them to a zoo in Canada when they became too big.
‘Put your legs on’
1986 in Johannesburg without fibulas (calf bones), his parents decided
when he was 11 months old to have his legs amputated below the knee so
he could be fitted with prosthetic legs.
allowed him to play sports with talent and enthusiasm while growing up.
He excelled in many, concentrating on running only after fracturing a
knee playing rugby.
never made an issue. My mother would say to my brother, ‘You put on
your shoes, and Oscar, you put on your legs, then meet me at the car,'”
Pistorius said in a 2011 interview.
middle child whose parents divorced when he was six, he has a
problematic relationship with his father Henke, but is close to his
siblings who were at his side in court.
His mother died when he was 15 and the date of her death is tattooed on his arm.
In 2004, just eight months after taking to the track, he smashed the 200m world record at the Athens Paralympics.
was the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games where he took the 100m, 200m and
400m sprint titles and launched a battle to take part in able-bodied
athletics, overcoming arguments that his custom-built carbon-fibre
running blades gave him an unfair advantage.
he made history by becoming the first amputee to run at the World
Championships, where he took silver with South Africa’s 4x400m sprint
“You’re not disabled by your disabilities but abled by your abilities,” he told Athlete magazine in an interview that year.
In 2012 he again made history by becoming the first double-amputee to compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics.
“He is the definition of global inspiration,” Time magazine proclaimed in its 2012 list of the world’s most influential people.
Less than a year later, Pistorius featured on the cover with the words “Man, Superman, Gunman”.