Oscar Pistorius

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Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius in Warsaw (cropped).jpg
Pistorius after a race in the Second Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Warsaw, 20 September 2011
Personal information
Nickname(s) Blade Runner; the fastest man on no legs; "Oz" Pistorius[1]
Born (1986-11-22)22 November 1986 (age 29)
Sandton, Johannesburg, Transvaal Province, South Africa
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in) in prosthetics[2]
Weight 80.6 kg (178 lb) (2007)[3]
Website www.oscarpistorius.com
Country South Africa
Sport Running
Event(s) Sprints (100, 200, 400 m)
Achievements and titles
World finals 2005 Paralympic World Cup: 100 m (T44) – Gold; 200 m (T44) – Gold
National finals 2007 South African Senior Athletics Championships: 400 m (T44) – Gold
Paralympic finals

2004 Summer Paralympics: 100 m (T44) – Bronze; 200 m (T44) – Gold
2008 Summer Paralympics: 100 m (T44) – Gold, 200 m (T44) – Gold; 400 m (T44) – Gold

2012 Summer Paralympics: 200 m (T44) – Silver; 4 × 100 m relay – Gold; Men's 400 m (T44) – Gold
Highest world ranking

100 m: 1st (2008)[4]
200 m: 1st (2008)[5]

400 m: 1st (2008)[6]
Personal best(s)

100 m (T44): 10.91 s (2007, WR)[7]
200 m (T44): 21.30 s (2012, WR)[8]

400 m: 45.07 s[9]
Updated on 6 September 2012.

Oscar Carl Lennard Pistorius OIB (/pɪsˈtɔːriəs/; Afrikaans pronunciation: [pisˈtɔrjus]; born 22 November 1986) is a South African sprint runner and convicted murderer.[10] Both of Pistorius' legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He was the first athlete to compete at the Paralympic games and Olympic games, competing in sprint events for below-knee amputees in Paralympic events, and in able-bodied sprint events.

After becoming a Paralympic champion, Pistorius attempted to enter able-bodied international competition, over persistent objections of the IAAF and charges that his artificial limbs gave an unfair advantage. Pistorius eventually prevailed in this legal dispute. At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men's 400 metres and 4 × 400 metres relay races. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Pistorius won gold medals in the men's 400-metre race and in the 4 × 100 metres relay, setting world records in both events. He also took silver in the 200-metre race, having set a world record in the semifinal.

On Valentine's Day 2013, Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in his Pretoria home. He said he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in the bathroom, but he was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial the following year, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide.[11][12][13] He received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction.[14][15] In November, prosecutors asked the sentencing judge for permission to appeal the verdict. Permission was granted in December, and the case was presented to a five-person panel at the Supreme Court of Appeal.[16] His release from prison to house arrest was announced for 21 August 2015,[17] but this was placed "on hold" on 19 August.[18] On 15 October 2015 it was confirmed that Pistorius was to be released from prison on 20 October;[19] however, he was released on 19 October. On 3 December 2015 the Appeal Court overturned the culpable homicide verdict and convicted him of murder.[20] On 8 December 2015 Pistorius was bailed to house arrest pending an appeal to the South African Constitutional Court. His appeal was denied on 3 March 2016. Pistorius is next due in court on 13 June 2016 to be sentenced for the murder conviction; the hearing will last 5 days concluding on 17 June 2016.[21]

Early life[edit]

Oscar Pistorius was born to Henke and Sheila Pistorius on 22 November 1986 in Sandton, Johannesburg, in what was then Transvaal Province (now Gauteng Province) of South Africa.[1] He grew up in a Christian home[22] and has an elder brother, Carl, and a younger sister, Aimée.[23][24] Pistorius credits his mother, who died at the age of 43 when Pistorius was 15 years old, as a major influence in his life.[25][26] He is a white South African with Italian ancestry from his mother's grandfather, an Italian emigrant to Kenya.[27] He is an Afrikaner with Afrikaans as a mother tongue and is also fluent in English.[28][29][30]

Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.[3] He attended Constantia Kloof Primary School[31] and Pretoria Boys High School,[1][32] where he played rugby union in the school's third XV team.[33] He played water polo and tennis at provincial level between the ages of 11 and 13.[33] In addition, Pistorius took part in club Olympic wrestling,[33][34][35] and trained at Jannie Brooks's garage gym in Pretoria, South Africa.[36] After a serious rugby knee injury in June 2003, he was introduced to running in January 2004 while undergoing rehabilitation at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre[37] with coach Ampie Louw, and "never looked back".[33] His first racing blades were fitted by South African prosthetist Francois van der Watt. Because he was unable to find suitable running blades in Pretoria, Van der Watt ordered some to be made by a local engineer. However, as these quickly broke, Van der Watt referred Pistorius to American prosthetist and Paralympic sprinter Brian Frasure to be fitted for blades by Icelandic company Össur.[38][39]

Pistorius began studying for a Bachelor of Trade & Commerce (B.Com.)[23] in business management with sports science at the University of Pretoria in 2006.[33][34][40] In a June 2008 interview for his University's website, he joked: "I won't graduate soon. With all the training I have had to cut down on my subjects. Hopefully I'll finish by the time I'm 30!"[23] Asked by a journalist for his "sporting motto", he said: "You're not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have."[33]

Sporting career[edit]

Pistorius taking part in the Landsmót ungmennafélags Íslands in Kópavogur, Iceland, in July 2007

Pistorius competes in T44 (single below-knee amputees) events though he is actually classified in T43 (double below knee amputee).[41] Sometimes referred to as the "Blade Runner" and "the fastest man on no legs",[35][42][43] Pistorius took part in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and came third overall in the T44 (one leg amputated below the knee)[35] 100-metre event.[44] Despite falling in the preliminary round for the 200 metres, he qualified for the final.[45] He went on to win the final in a world record time of 21.97 seconds, beating a pair of American runners both possessing a single amputation, Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure.[44]

In 2005, Pistorius finished sixth in the able-bodied South African Championships over 400 metres with a world-record time of 47.34 seconds,[35] and at the Paralympic World Cup in the same year, he won gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres, beating his previous 200-metre world record.[46][47] At the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships, Pistorius won gold in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre events, breaking the world record over 200 metres.[48] On 17 March 2007, he set a disability sports world record for the 400 metres (46.56 seconds) at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban;[49] and at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled held in Johannesburg in April 2007, he became the world record holder of the 100- and 200-metre events with times of 10.91 and 21.58 seconds respectively.[7][50]

Pistorius was invited by the IAAF to take part in what would have been his first international able-bodied event, the 400-metre race at the IAAF Grand Prix in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2005. He was unable to attend, however, because of school commitments.[51] On 13 July 2007, Pistorius ran in the 400-metre race at Rome's Golden Gala and finished second in run B with a time of 46.90 seconds, behind Stefano Braciola who ran 46.72 seconds.[52] This was a warm-up for his appearance at the 400 metres at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield on 15 July 2007.[53] As American Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner stumbled at the start of the race and stopped running, Pistorius took seventh place in a field of eight in wet conditions with a time of 47.65 seconds. However, he was later disqualified for running outside his lane. The race was won by American Angelo Taylor with a time of 45.25 seconds.[54][55] Pistorius had ambitions of competing in other able-bodied events. In particular, he had set his sights on competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China,[56] but was ultimately not selected by the South African Olympic Committee (see below).

Dispute over prosthetics[edit]

Pistorius in his prosthetics at an International Paralympic Day event in Trafalgar Square, London, on 8 September 2011
The South African newspaper The Citizen announcing the IAAF's decision to bar Pistorius from its competitions – photographed in Johannesburg on 16 January 2008

Pistorius has been the subject of criticism because of claims that his artificial limbs give him an advantage over runners with natural ankles and feet. He runs with J-shaped carbon-fibre prosthetics called the "Flex-Foot Cheetah" developed by biomedical engineer Van Phillips and manufactured by Össur.[35]

On 26 March 2007, the IAAF amended its competition rules to include a ban on the use of "any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device".[57] It claimed that the amendment was not specifically aimed at Pistorius. To decide whether he was running with an unfair advantage, the IAAF monitored his track performances using high-definition cameras to film his race against Italian club runners in Rome on 13 July, and his 400 metres in Sheffield on 15 July 2007,[42][58] at which he placed last.[55]

In November 2007, Pistorius was invited to take part in a series of scientific tests at the Cologne Sports University under the guidance of Professor of Biomechanics Dr Peter Brüggemann in conjunction with Elio Locatelli, who was responsible with the IAAF of all technical issues. After two days of tests, Brüggemann reported on his findings on behalf of the IAAF. The report claimed that Pistorius's limbs used 25% less energy than runners with complete natural legs to run at the same speed, and that they led to less vertical motion combined with 30% less mechanical work for lifting the body.[59] In December, Brüggemann told Die Welt newspaper that Pistorius "has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear."[60] Based on these findings, on 14 January 2008, the IAAF ruled Pistorius's prostheses ineligible for use in competitions conducted under the IAAF rules, including the 2008 Summer Olympics.[61] Pistorius called the decision "premature and highly subjective" and pledged to continue fighting for his dream. His manager Peet van Zyl said his appeal would be based on advice from United States experts who had said that the report "did not take enough variables into consideration".[62]

Pistorius subsequently appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and appeared before the tribunal at the end of April 2008.[63] After a two-day hearing, on 16 May 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Pistorius's appeal and the IAAF council decision was revoked with immediate effect. The CAS panel unanimously determined that Dr Brüggemann tested Pistorius's biomechanics only at full-speed when he was running in a straight line (unlike a real 400-metre race); that the report did not consider the disadvantages that Pistorius suffers at the start and acceleration phases of the race; and that overall there was no evidence that he had any net advantage over able-bodied athletes.[64] In response to the announcement, Pistorius said: "My focus throughout this appeal has been to ensure that disabled athletes be given the chance to compete and compete fairly with able-bodied athletes. I look forward to continuing my quest to qualify for the Olympics."[65]

Attempts to qualify for 2008 Summer Olympics[edit]

To have a chance of representing South Africa at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the individual 400-metre race, Pistorius had to attain the Olympic "A" standard time of 45.55 seconds; the "B" qualifying time of 45.95 seconds if no other athlete from his country achieved the faster time did not apply. Each national athletics federation is permitted to enter three athletes in an event if the "A" standard is met, and only one athlete if the "B" standard is met.[66] However, he was eligible for selection as a member of the relay squad without qualifying.[67] His best chance was to try for a time of close to 46 seconds to make the 4 × 400-metre relay team. However, he said: "If I make the team I don't want to be the reserve for the relay, I want to be in the top four. I want to bring something to the race and make the relay stronger." To give him a chance of making the South African Olympic team, selectors delayed naming the team until 17 July.[68]

On 2 July 2008, Pistorius competed in the 400 metres in the B race of the Notturna International in Milan but was "disappointed"[68][69] when he failed to achieve the minimum Olympic qualification time, completing the race in fourth place in 47.78 seconds.[68][70] His performance on 11 July 2008 at the Rome Golden Gala was an improvement of more than a second, though his sixth-place time of 46.62 seconds in the B race was still short of the Olympic qualification time. Nonetheless, he was pleased with his performance, commenting that he felt he could improve on it.[71]

On 15 July 2008, IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss commented that the world athletics body preferred that the South African Olympic Committee not select Pistorius for its 4 × 400 metres relay team "for reasons of safety", saying that Pistorius could cause "serious damage" and risk the physical safety of himself and other athletes if he ran in the main pack of the relay.[72] Pistorius branded this as the IAAF's "last desperate attempt" to get him not to qualify,[73] and threatened legal action if the Federation did not confirm that it had no objections to his participation in the relay.[74] The IAAF responded by issuing a statement saying that Pistorius was welcome to seek qualification for the Olympics and future competitions under IAAF rules: "The IAAF fully respects the recent CAS decision regarding the eligibility of Oscar Pistorius to compete in IAAF competitions, and certainly has no wish to influence the South African Olympic Committee, who has full authority to select a men's 4x400m relay team for the Beijing Olympics."[75][76]

Coming third with a personal best time of 46.25 seconds at the Spitzen Leichtathletik meeting in Lucerne on 16 July 2008, Pistorius failed to qualify for the 400 metres at the 2008 Summer Olympics by 0.70 seconds. Athletics South Africa later announced that he would also not be selected for the 4 × 400 metres relay team as four other runners had better times.[75][77] Had Pistorius been selected, he would have been one of the first[78] competitors with a leg amputation to participate in the Olympic Games. Pistorius's compatriot Natalie du Toit, a swimmer whose left leg was amputated above the knee after a traffic accident, duly became the first athlete with an amputation to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics.[79] Asked about the possibility of the IAAF offering him a wild card to take part in the Olympics, Pistorius responded: "I do not believe that I would accept. If I have to take part in the Beijing Games I should do it because I qualified." He expressed a preference for focusing on qualification for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London,[69] stating that it was a more realistic target as "[s]printers usually reach their peak between 26 and 29. I will be 25 in London and I'll also have two, three years' preparation."[70]

2008 Summer Paralympics[edit]

Pistorius participated in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing in the 100, 200 and 400 metres (T44). On 9 September, in the heats of the 100 metres, he set a Paralympic record with his time of 11.16 seconds.[80] Later, following a slow start, he rallied to snatch gold from the United States' Jerome Singleton in the 100 metres in a time of 11.17 seconds, 0.03 seconds ahead of the silver medallist.[81] Four days later, on 13 September, the defending Paralympic champion in the 200-metre sprint[82] won his second gold in the event in a time of 21.67 seconds,[83] setting another Paralympic record.[80] He completed a hat-trick by winning gold in the 400 metres in a world-record time of 47.49 seconds on 16 September,[84] calling it "a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life".[85]

2011 and qualification for 2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

Pistorius during the 2011 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea

In January 2011, a slimmer, trimmer Pistorius won three IPC Athletics World titles in New Zealand but was beaten for the first time in seven years in the 100 metres by American Jerome Singleton.[86] He subsequently won the T44 400 metres in 47.28 seconds and the 100 metres in 11.04 seconds at the BT Paralympic World Cup in May to reassert himself as the world's leading Paralympic sprinter.[87]

Pistorius competed across a number of able-bodied races in the summer of 2011 and posted three times under 46 seconds, but it was at the 19th Internazionale di Atletica Sports Solidarity Meeting in Lignano, Italy, on 19 July that he set a personal best of 45.07 seconds in the 400 metres, attaining the World Championships and Olympic Games "A" standard qualification mark.[9][88][89] Pistorius won the 400-metres event with a posted time that ranked him as 15th fastest in the world.[90]

On 8 August 2011 it was announced that he had been included in the South African team for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and had been selected for the 400-metre and the 4 × 400 metre relay squad. In the heats of the 400 metres, Pistorius ran in 45.39 seconds and qualified for the semifinal. However, in the semifinal, he ran 46.19 seconds and was eliminated.[91]

In the heats of the 4 × 400 metres relay, Pistorius ran the opening leg as South Africa advanced to the finals with a national record time of 2 minutes 59.21 seconds. However, he was not selected to run in the finals based on having the slowest split time of 46.20. This caused a controversy, as the first leg is normally Pistorius's slowest since it requires a start from blocks, and he was restricted to the first leg by Athletics South Africa "on safety grounds". He initially tweeted "Haven't been included in final. Pretty gutted.", but later added "Well done to the SA 4×400m team. Was really hard watching, knowing I deserved to be part of it."[92] Pistorius still won the silver medal because he ran in the heats, becoming the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal.[93][94] Reflecting on his World Championship debut, Pistorius said: "I really enjoyed the whole experience. I ran my second fastest time ever in the heats and was really pleased to have reached the semifinals. In the relay I was unbelievably chuffed to have broken the South African record, and hopefully my name will stay on that for a long time to come."[95]

On 4 July 2012, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) announced that Pistorius had been included in the Olympic team[96] for the 400-metre and the 4 × 400 metres relay races.[97][98]

2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

Pistorius running in the Olympic Stadium during the heats of the 400 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics on 4 August

At the 2012 Summer Olympics on 4 August 2012, Pistorius became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games.[99] In the 400 metres race, he took second place in the first heat of five runners, finishing with a time of 45.44 seconds (his best time of the season so far) to advance to the semifinals on 5 August.[100] He ran in the second semifinal, where he finished eighth and last with a time of 46.54 seconds.[101][102]

In the first semifinal of the 4 × 400 metres relay race on 9 August, the second runner of the South African team, Ofentse Mogawane, fell and was injured before reaching Pistorius, who was to have run the third leg. South Africa was passed into the final on appeal to the IAAF, due to interference by Vincent Kiilu, the Kenyan athlete who downed Mogawane.[103][104] The South African relay team eventually finished eighth out of the field of nine in the final on 10 August. However, it established a season's best time for the team of 3 minutes 3.46 seconds,[105] with Pistorius running the final leg in 45.9 seconds.[106] Pistorius was chosen to carry the South African flag for the closing ceremony.[107]

2012 Summer Paralympics[edit]

Pistorius also carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics on 29 August.[108] He entered the T44 classification men's 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres races, and the T42–T46 4 × 100 metres relay.[109]

Pistorius carrying the flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics

In the 200-metre competition, Pistorius established a new T43 world record of 21.30 seconds in his heat on 1 September,[8] but he was defeated in the final the next day by Alan Oliveira of Brazil. Pistorius took silver, and then created a controversy by complaining about the length of Oliveira's blades. He later apologised for the timing of his remarks, but not the content of his complaint.[110] The IPC confirmed the length of Oliveira’s blades were proportional to his body, with all the finalists measured before the race. The IPC also confirmed that Pistorius had raised the issue of blade length with it six weeks prior to the race. SASCOC issued a statement welcoming Pistorius's apology for his outburst and declared their full support for him and promised to assist him in discussions with the IPC about the issue of lengthened prosthetics after the conclusion of the Games. The IPC expressed willingness to engage with Pistorius about the issue.[111] Australian runner Jack Swift,[2] USA runner Jerome Singleton,[112] and other athletes[113] also expressed support for Pistorius's position.

Pistorius won a gold medal on 5 September running the anchor leg as part of the South African 4 × 100 metres relay team. The team set a world record time of 41.78 seconds.[114] He was unsuccessful in defending his Beijing Olympics 100-metre title when he came fourth with a season's best time of 11.17 seconds, and the race was won by Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock.[115] On 8 September, the last full day of competition, Pistorius won gold in the T44 400 metres with a time of 46.68 seconds, breaking the Paralympic record.[116]


Disability sports events[edit]

Time (s) Results Date Event
100 m (class T44)
(world record)
Gold 4 April 2007 Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled
Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa
11.16[117] Bronze 17–28 September 2004 2004 Summer Paralympics
Athens, Greece
11.17[81] Gold 9 September 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics
Beijing, People's Republic of China
11.23[46] Gold 15 May 2005 2005 Visa Paralympic World Cup
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
11.32[118] Gold 5 September 2006 IPC World Championships
Assen, Netherlands
11.34[119] Silver 26 January 2011 IPC World Championships
Christchurch, New Zealand
11.42[4] Gold 6 June 2008 Sportfest
Duisburg, Germany
11.48[120] Gold 1 June 2008 Dutch Open National Championships
Emmeloord, Netherlands
11.62[118] Gold 2004 USA
200 m (class T44)
(21.30 in semifinal – T43 world record)[8]
Silver 2 September 2012 2012 Summer Paralympics
London, England, United Kingdom
(world record)
Gold 5 April 2007 Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled
Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa
(Paralympic record)[80]
Gold 13 September 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics
Beijing, People's Republic of China
21.77[5] Gold 15 June 2008 German Open National Championships
Berlin, Germany
(21.66 in semifinal – world record)[118]
Gold 8 September 2006 IPC World Championships
Assen, Netherlands
21.80[119] Gold 24 January 2011 IPC World Championships
Christchurch, New Zealand
21.97[117] Gold 17–28 September 2004 2004 Summer Paralympics
Athens, Greece
(world record)
Gold 15 May 2005 2005 Visa Paralympic World Cup
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
22.04[122] Gold 31 May 2008 Dutch Open National Championships
Emmeloord, Netherlands
22.71[118] Gold 2004 USA
400 m (class T44)
(Paralympic record)
Gold 8 September 2012 2012 Summer Paralympics
London, England, United Kingdom
(world record)
Gold 16 September 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics
Beijing, People's Republic of China
47.92[120] Gold 1 June 2008 Dutch Open National Championships
Emmeloord, Netherlands
48.37[119] Gold 29 January 2011 IPC World Championships
Christchurch, New Zealand
49.42[118] Gold 4 September 2006 IPC World Championships
Assen, Netherlands
4 × 100 m relay (classes T42–T46)
(world record)
Gold 5 September 2012 2012 Summer Paralympics
London, England, United Kingdom
42.80[119] Gold 29 January 2011 IPC World Championships
Christchurch, New Zealand

Able-bodied sports events[edit]

Time (s) Results Date Event
400 m
(personal best)
First place 19 July 2011 Meeting Internazionale di Atletica Sports Solidarity
Lignano, Italy
(seasonal best)
16th in Round 1
(out of 51 athletes)
4 August 2012 2012 London Olympics
London, United Kingdom
45.52[123] Silver 29 June 2012 2012 African Championships in Athletics
Porto-Novo, Benin
46.56[124] Silver 17 March 2007 2007 Senior South African National Championships
Durban, South Africa
4 × 400 m relay
2 min 59.21 s (heats)[93] Silver 1 September 2011 2011 World Championships in Athletics
Daegu, South Korea
3 min 04.01 s[125] Silver 1 July 2012 2012 African Championships in Athletics
Porto-Novo, Benin

Other awards and accolades[edit]

In 2006, Pistorius was conferred the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievement in sports.[1][40] On 9 December 2007, Pistorius was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award, which is conferred for outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity.[126]

Pistorius at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea

In May 2008, Pistorius made the "Time 100" – Time magazine's annual list of the world's most influential people – appearing third in the "Heroes & Pioneers" section. Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to climb Mount Everest, wrote in an essay that Pistorius was "on the cusp of a paradigm shift in which disability becomes ability, disadvantage becomes advantage. Yet we mustn't lose sight of what makes an athlete great. It's too easy to credit Pistorius' success to technology. Through birth or circumstance, some are given certain gifts, but it's what one does with those gifts, the hours devoted to training, the desire to be the best, that is at the true heart of a champion."[127] In 2012 he made the list again.[128]

In February 2012, Pistorius was awarded the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for 2012.[129] On 22 August 2012, he was honoured with the unveiling of a large mural depicting his achievements in the town of Gemona, Italy.[130]

On 9 September 2012, Pistorius was shortlisted by the IPC for the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award as a competitor "who is fair, honest and is uncompromising in his or her values and prioritises the promotion of the Paralympic Movement above personal recognition". According to director Craig Spence, he was nominated by an unnamed external organisation from South Korea.[131] The award went to two other athletes.[132]

After the 2012 Summer Paralympics, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow announced they would confer on Pistorius, among others, an honorary doctorate. Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "Each of our honorary graduands has excelled in their chosen field, and each has touched the lives of many others around the world. As a leading international technological university committed to excellence, it is fitting that we recognise their inspiring achievements and we look forward to welcoming them to the university in November."[133]

Sponsorship and charitable activities[edit]

Pistorius has sponsorship deals worth US$2 million a year with Össur,[134] BT, Nike, Oakley and Thierry Mugler.[135] In 2011, Pistorius participated as a model in an advertising campaign for a Thierry Mugler fragrance called A*Men.[136]

In 2008, Pistorius collaborated in the release of a music CD called Olympic Dream. Produced in Italy, it consists of disco remixes of music pieces that Pistorius finds inspirational, and two tracks written for him, "Olympic Dream" and "Run Boy Run", for which he provided voiceovers. Part of the CD's proceeds of sale went to charity.[137] Pistorius also actively supports the Mineseeker Foundation, a charity that works to raise awareness for landmine victims and has a support programme to provide prosthetics for victims.[138]

On 21 February 2013, after previously suspending adverts that featured Pistorius and the line "I am the bullet in the chamber" in the wake of his shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, sportswear manufacturer Nike suspended its contract with Pistorius. A company spokesperson stated: "We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."[139]

Personal life[edit]

Pistorius has two visible tattoos. The dates of his mother's birth and death ("LVIII V VIII – II III VI" – 8 May 1958 – 6 March 2002) are tattooed on the inside of his right arm.[25] The other tattoo, which is on his back, is the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 9:26–27 which begins, "I do not run like a man running aimlessly."[140] He used to own a house in South Africa which was sold in June 2014, and used to train for the European season in Gemona del Friuli, Italy.[141] Aside from running, his interests include architecture,[142] motorbiking, and breeding race horses.[143]

Pistorius's autobiography, Dream Runner, was published in Italian in 2008 with Gianni Merlo, a journalist with La Gazzetta dello Sport.[144] An English version entitled Blade Runner was released in 2009.[145] In 2010, Pistorius appeared on L'isola dei famosi, an Italian version of Celebrity Survivor.[146] On 7 January 2012, he appeared as a special guest on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars called Ballando con le Stelle at Auditorium Rai in Rome, where he danced a tango with Annalisa Longo to ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All".[147] On 9 October 2012, Pistorius appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[148] He was also scheduled to appear on Piers Morgan Tonight and the Larry King Now show at later dates.[149]

In February 2009, Pistorius was seriously injured when he was thrown from a boat in an accident on the Vaal River near Johannesburg. He was airlifted to Milpark Hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair broken facial bones including his nose and jaw.[150] There were initial concerns about his fitness, but he recovered fully. However, the accident affected his training and running schedule for that year.[151]

Pistorius was scheduled as an amateur golfer in the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship held at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns in Scotland. Pistorius has a 21 handicap in South Africa, but played off an 18 handicap for the Championship.[152] In 2010 he played in the Laureus World Sports Awards Golf Challenge at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates[153] and the Help-net Fund Celebrity Charity Golf Day.[154]

Murder of Reeva Steenkamp[edit]

Oscar Pistorius
Criminal penalty Awaiting sentencing
on 17 June 2016
Conviction(s) Murder
Capture status
Bailed under house arrest
Victims Reeva Steenkamp
Date 14 February 2013
Weapons Taurus PT 917 CS 9mm semi-automatic pistol[155]
Imprisoned at Kgosi Mampuru II jail[156]

In the early morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, Pistorius shot and killed South African model Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria.[157][158][159] Pistorius acknowledged that he shot Steenkamp, causing her death, but said that he mistook her for a possible intruder.[160]

Pistorius' trial for murder began on 3 March 2014 in Pretoria.[161][162] On 20 May 2014, the trial proceedings were adjourned until 30 June to enable Pistorius to undergo psychiatric evaluation to establish whether he could be held criminally responsible for shooting Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed to a request for the evaluation by prosecutor Gerrie Nel after forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster testified for the defence that she had diagnosed Pistorius with generalized anxiety disorder.[163] On 30 June 2014, the trial resumed after the evaluation reports which said Pistorius could be held criminally responsible. The state prosecutor was quoted as saying, "Mr. Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness or defect that would have rendered him criminally not responsible for the offence charged".[164] The defence closed its case on 8 July and closing arguments were heard on 7 and 8 August.[165][166]

On 12 September, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm-related charge, of reckless endangerment related to discharging a firearm in a restaurant. He was found not guilty of two firearm-related charges relating to illegal possession of ammunition and firing a firearm through the sunroof of a car.[11][12][13] On 21 October 2014, he received a prison sentence of a maximum of five years for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for the separate reckless endangerment conviction.[14][15]

Prison term[edit]

Pistorius' brother Carl told a South African weekly that his brother did not receive any special privileges during his first six weeks in prison. He was incarcerated for 17 hours per day in his cell and was allowed one hour of outdoor exercise and one hour in the weight room daily. He did not have a private bathroom, but was given a stool to use in the communal shower room. According to his brother, Pistorius advised inmates in the hospital wing about exercise, and wanted to initiate a prison basketball program.[167]

In June 2015, Pistorius was recommended for early release as early as August. South African Commissioner of Correctional Services Zach Modise told the BBC of the decision by the case management committee at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, where Pistorius was being held: "Under South African law he is eligible for release under 'correctional supervision' having served a sixth of his sentence."[168]

After Pistorius served approximately one-sixth of his prison term, his release date to house arrest was announced for 21 August 2015. This release was based on good behavior and the fact that he was not considered a danger to the community. Pistorius was expected to remain under house arrest and correctional supervision, and was expected to perform community service as part of his continuing sentence. Regardless of his release from prison, Pistorius could not return to official athletic competition until the whole five years of his sentence was complete.[17] On 19 August 2015 his release was unexpectedly blocked by South Africa's Justice Minister Michael Masutha. According to Masutha, the parole board's decision for early release was "premature." Legal experts noted that the move was likely due to political pressure and had implications for other cases of pending early release.[18] He was released from prison on 19 October 2015.[169]

Case appeal[edit]

On 4 November 2014, prosecutors applied to the sentencing judge for permission to appeal the culpable homicide verdict, stating that the five-year prison term was "shockingly light, inappropriate and would not have been imposed by any reasonable court".[170] Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled on 10 December 2014 that the prosecution could challenge her ruling of acquitting Pistorius of premeditated murder and the lesser charge of culpable homicide. However, she ruled that the state could not appeal the length of the sentence. The case was then set for appeal in front of a five-person panel at the Supreme Court of Appeal.[16]

The date for prosecutors to submit court papers outlining their arguments was set for 17 August 2015, and the date for the defense team's response was set for 17 September 2015. The date for the appeal hearing was set for November 2015.[171] The prosecutors' argument rested on Judge Masipa's application of the legal principle of dolus eventualis (whether an accused did actually foresee the outcome of his actions, rather than whether he or she should have), and that the judge made an error in concluding Pistorius had not foreseen that by firing four shots through the closed door of the toilet cubicle, he would kill or injure whoever was behind the door.[172]

The appeal was heard on 3 November 2015, in the Supreme Court of Appeal, Bloemfontein. The matter was heard before 5 Supreme Court judges. By a unanimous decision,[173] the court overturned Pistorius' culpable homicide conviction and found him guilty of murder in the death of Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Eric Leach read the summary of judgment. The panel of five judges found for the prosecutor's argument that Pistorius must have known that someone would die if he fired through the closed door into a small toilet cubicle. In the words of Judge Leach, "Although he may have been anxious, it is inconceivable that a rational person could have believed he was entitled to fire at this person with a heavy-calibre firearm, without taking even that most elementary precaution of firing a warning shot, which the accused said he elected not to fire as he thought the ricochet might harm him."[174]

According to the judgement, the person who Pistorius thought was in the cubicle had nothing to do with the results of his actions.[175][176][10] The culpable homicide verdict was replaced with a murder conviction, and the case was referred back to the trial court for a sentencing hearing when it reconvenes on 18 April 2016. [10][177]

On 8 December 2015, it was announced Pistorius would continue to remain free on bail but under house arrest[178] pending his appeal to the Constitutional Court. On 3 March 2016 it was announced Pistorius had been denied his right to appeal, and will next be due in court on 13 June 2016 to begin a 5-day sentencing hearing for the murder conviction, concluding on 17 June 2016.[179][180]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Germany Verena Bentele
Laureus World Sportsperson with a Disability of the Year
Succeeded by
Brazil Daniel Dias