Born: 22 November 1986
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Best known as:
The double-amputee sprinter who was arrested for killing his girlfriend
Oscar Pistorius is the double-amputee sprinter from South Africa who was arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend on Valentine's Day of 2013. Pistorious was already known worldwide for his successful fight to run in able-bodied events, including the 2012 Olympic Games. Oscar Pistorius was born without a fibula in either leg -- the fibula being the smaller of the two bones that run from the knee to the ankle. Both legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, but he grew up in a "sports-mad family" and played water polo, tennis and rugby. He took up running at age 16 while rehabbing a rugby injury, and the next year won a gold medal in the 200 meters at the World Paralympic Games in Athens. Pistorius runs on springy carbon-fiber blades called Flex-Foot Cheetahs which attach to the stumps of his legs below the knees; they earned him the nickname of the Blade Runner. By 2007 he was competing in both able-bodied and paralympic events. He swept the 100m, 200m and 400m races at the Beijing Parlympics in 2008, but that same year the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that his blades were a competitive advantage and banned him from competing with able-bodied runners in standard IAAF events. After a formal hearing, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Pistorius did not have an advantage and could legally compete in IAAF races with the prosthetics. His fight to overcome his disability made him a hero to many and he picked up sponsorships from Nike, Oakley Sunglasses, and other high-profile firms. (The New York Times said in a 2012 profile that Pistorius was earning "well over $1 million a year.") In 2012 he ran in the London Olympics as part of the South African 4x400 meter team. The team did not medal, but Pistorius did win two golds (in the 400 meters and the 4x100 meter relay) at the 2012 Paralympic Games which followed. However, things took a shocking turn a few months later: on 14 February 2013, Oscar Pistorius was arrested and charged with murder after his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot and killed inside of Pistorius's home in Pretoria. In bail hearings over the following week, a magistrate ruled that the charge should be upgraded to premeditated murder, although he said the charge could be downgraded later. Pistorius was released on February 22, and commanded to return for trial on June 4, 2013. A Pretoria court indicted him on murder on weapons charges 19 August 2013 (Steenkamp's birthday, as it happens).
Oscar Pistorius has a Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, tattooed on his left shoulder. The tattoo 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 his arm... His Flex-Foot Cheetahs are manufactured by the Icelandic company Össur... In the Paralympics he competes in classes T43 (double below-the-knee amputees) and T44 (single below-the-knee amputees)... His nickname, the Blade Runner, is a nod to the 1982 sci-fi movie of the same name.
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