Sport

Blade drama set to run anew as the world watches on

Oscar Pistorius crosses the line to win gold in the Paralympics 400m at London 2012.
Oscar Pistorius crosses the line to win gold in the Paralympics 400m at London 2012. Ben Stansall

WHEN Oscar Pistorius first entered the global spotlight in 2007, threatening to bridge the divide from Paralympic to Olympic competition, Tom Hanks started bidding for the film rights to the life story of the "Blade Runner".

It is unclear whether the Hollywood star and producer who brought Forrest Gump to life ever succeeded in his quest but in the life and times of the 26-year-old Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius there is a gripping tale to be told.

The South African last year became the first double-amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in an Olympic Games.

He was listed last year by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people.

But there is likely to be a harrowing courtroom drama to come following the tragic events that unfolded at the athlete's home at Silver Woods, a "secured estate", in eastern Pretoria about 50km north of Johannesburg.

The South African icon was arrested by police after allegedly shooting dead his girlfriend, 30-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp.

He reportedly shot her three times with a 9mm handgun. He has told police he mistook her for a burglar.

The Valentine's Day incident has stunned South Africa and the world of athletics.

Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Athlete Oscar Pistorius weeps in court in Pretoria at his bail hearing in the murder case of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius has been one of South Africa's highest profile figures, taking on the world's best able-bodied athletes with his trailblazing spirit and his carbon-fibre prosthetic blades.

He has sponsorship deals said to be worth $2 million a year.

His wealth would make him a target of criminals, which is presumably why he chose to live at the Silver Woods complex.

But not all the publicity was positive. In December Pistorius hit South African headlines after allegedly threatening to break the legs of a high-profile businessman.

Pistorius spends the European summer in Italy but has been back home preparing for this year's track season following a momentous 2012.

At the London Olympics he became the first double amputee to compete at an Olympic Games, reaching the semi-finals of the 400m and the final of the 4 x 400m relay.

Back on the same track at the Paralympics in September, Pistorius endured a mixed week.

First he lost his T45 200m title to Alan Oliveira of Brazil.

Then he lost his temper, complaining that Oliveria and Blake Leeper of the US had gained an unfair advantage from using longer prosthetic blades.

It dented his public image, but he hammered them out on the final day, winning the 400m in 46.86sec, a Paralympic record.

The 80,000 crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa prepares for his race in the Men's 400m Round 1 heat on Day 8 of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa prepares for his race in the Men's 400m Round 1 heat on Day 8 of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Julia Vynokurova / Getty Images

Pistorius has been accustomed to challenges. He was born without fibulae and had both legs amputated below the knee at 11 months.

Still, by the age of 16, with the help of prosthetics he was in the school rugby team at Pretoria Boys' High.

On one occasion, he was tackled so hard one of his prosthetic legs came off. It failed to stop him. He hopped over the try line to score.

In 2003, he suffered a serious knee injury playing rugby.

He never played rugby again but next summer was standing on top of the medal rostrum at the Olympic Stadium in Athens with a Paralympic gold medal around his neck.

He became a competitive runner by accident.

It was as part of his rehabilitation that he was given medical advice to do sprint training, being told it would be the best way to regain functionality in the knee joint.

Deeply religious, Pistorius has the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 tattooed on his left shoulder.

It begins: "I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. I execute each strike with intent. I beat my body and make it my slave..."

He also has the date of his mother's death tattooed on the inside of an arm.

Shela Pistorius died in 2002.

It was her stridently positive attitude that caused her son to see his disability as anything but a handicap.

Topics:  crime editors picks murder sport



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