Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius is a South African double below-knee amputee sprint runner. He first achieved fame in the 2004 Paralympics Games which were held in Athens, Greece after the summer Olympics Games. In those games Oscar Pistorius took home a Bronze and the Gold medals. His bid to compete in the Olympics as well as the Paralympics propelled him to further fame and was later allowed to. Pistorius’s seemingly bright future was put in doubt on February 14, 2013 when he shot and his girlfriend South African model Reeva Steenkamp.

Oscar Pistorius
Born Oscar Leonard
Carl Pistorius
November 22, 1986
Sandton, Johannesburg
Gauteng
South Africa
Nickname Blade Runner
Education Constantia Kloof Primary
Pretoria Boys High
University of Pretoria
Nationality South African
Occupation Athlete
Sprint Runner
Website http://oscarpistorius.com/

Oscar Pistorius was born to Henke and Sheila Pistorius  in Sandton, Johannesburg,Gauteng (at the time Transvaal Province) South Africa.

He has two siblings, and elder brother Carl Pistorius and a younger sister, Aimée Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius was born without fibular hemimelia in both legs, as a result, when he was 11 months he had to have both legs amputated below the knees.

He went to Constantia Kloof Primary School in Roodepoort, Gauteng, South Africa and later attended Pretoria Boys High School.

While going through school, Oscar Pistorius participated in a number of sports, among them, Rugby, Tennis, Water Polo and Wrestling.

Oscar Pistorius was only introduced to running in January 2004 while undergoing  while undergoing rehabilitation at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre (HPC) with coach Ampie Louw following a serious injury while playing ruby in June 2003.

In 2006 he at the University of Pretoria and began studying a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) in business management with sports science.

Pistorius has not completed his studies yet, in a June 2008 interview with the University of Pretoria website he was quoted saying, “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!”

 

Running Career

Pistorius’ first racing blades were fitted by South African prosthetist Francois van der Watt. Since he was unable to find suitable running blades in Pretoria, he ordered some to be made by a local engineer.

However, as those blades quickly broke, van der Watt referred Pistorius to American prosthetist and Paralympic sprinter Brian Frasure to be fitted for blades by Icelandic company Össur.

Oscar-pistorius-taking-offOscar Pistorius competes in a single below-knee amputees classification known as T44 even though he is classified as double below knee amputee which is known as T43.

Pistorius represented South Africa in 2004 Paralympic Games, he competed in the T44 an came in third 100 metre event.

Despite falling in the preliminary round for the 200 metres, he qualified for the final. He went on to win the final in a world record time of 21.97 seconds, besting a pair of American runners both possessing a single amputation, Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure.

In 2005 Oscar Pistorius competed in the able-bodied South African Championships in 400 metre event and finished sixth with a world-record time of 47.34 seconds. In that year he also competed in the Paralympic World Cup and won gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres while beating his previous 200-metre world record.

In 2006 he competed in the Paralympic Athletics World Championships and won gold in the 100, 200 and 400-metre events, breaking the world record over 200 metres.

On March 17, 2007 Oscar Pistorius set a disability sports world record of 46.56 seconds for the 400 metres at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. and at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled held in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

In April 2007 Pistorius became the world record holder of the 100- and 200-metre events with times of 10.91 and 21.58 seconds respectively.

On July 13, 2007 he 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 as a warm-up for his scheduled appearance at the 400 metres at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield on 15 July 2007.

In order for Oscar Pistorius to have a chance at being selected to represent South Africa at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in the individual 400-metre race, he 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. Pistorius would been eligible for selection as a member of the relay squad without qualifying. His best chance was to try for a time of close to 46 seconds to make the 4 × 400-metre relay team.

On July 2, 2008 Pistorius competed in the 400 metres in the B race of the Notturna International in Milan but was “disappointed” when he failed to achieve the minimum Olympic qualification time, completing the race in fourth place in 47.78 seconds.

On July 11, 2008 his performance 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.

On July 15, 2008 Pierre Weiss, IAAF general secretary, 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.

This was branded by Pistorius as the IAAF’s “last desperate attempt” to get him not to qualify and threatened legal action if the IAAF did not confirm that it had no objections to his participation in the relay. 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.”

Oscar-Pistorius-2012-londonOn July 16, 2008 Pistorius failed to qualify for the 400 metres at the 2008 Summer Olympics by 0.70 seconds after coming third with a personal best time of 46.25 seconds at the Spitzen Leichtathletik meeting in Lucerne. Athletics South Africa later announced that four other runners had better times as a result he would also not be selected for the 4 × 400 metres relay team.

Oscar Pistorius compete in the 2008 Summer Paralympics held in Beijing, China  in the 100, 200 and 400 metres (T44).

On September 9, 2008 he set a Paralympic record with his time of 11.16 seconds in the heats of the 100 metres. He later 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 medalist.

On September 13 he won his second gold in the event in a time of 21.67 seconds setting another Paralympic record.

On September 16 Oscar Pistorius completed a hat-trick by winning gold in the 400 metres in a world-record time of 47.49 seconds on 16 September “a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life”.

In January 2011 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. 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

In 2011 Oscar Pistorius competed in a number of able-bodied races and posted three times under 46 seconds.

On July 19 at the 19th Internazionale di Atletica Sports Solidarity Meeting in Lignano, Italy, Pistorius set a personal best of 45.07 seconds in the 400 metres, attaining the World Championships and Olympic Games “A” standard qualification mark. He won the 400-metres event with a posted time that ranked him as 15th fastest in the world.

On August 8, 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 metres 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.

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.”

Oscar Pistorius still won the silver medal because he ran in the heats, becoming the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal.

On July 4, 2012 the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) announced that Oscar Pistorius had been included in the Olympic team that will travel to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics and will compete in the 400 metres and the 4 × 400 metres relay races.

On August 4, 2012 during the London 2012 Summer Olympics Oscar Pistorius became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games 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. He ran in the second semifinal, where he finished eighth and last with a time of 46.54 seconds.

On August 9 in the first semifinal of the 4 × 400 metres relay race, the second runner of the South African team, Ofentse Mogawane, fell and was injured before reaching Pistorius, who was going to run the third leg. South Africa went to the final following an appeal to the IAAF, due to interference by Vincent Kiilu, the Kenyan athlete who downed Mogawane.

On August 10 the South African relay team finished eighth out of the field of nine in the final and established a season’s best time for the team of 3 minutes 3.46 seconds with with Oscar Pistorius running the final leg in 45.9 seconds.

Oscar Pistorius was chosen to carry the South African flag for the closing ceremony.

On August 29 Oscar Pistorius also carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics. He entered the men’s 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres races in the T44 classification, and the T42–T46 4 × 100 metres relay.

On September 1 Pistorius established a new T43 world record of 21.30 seconds in his heat in the 200 metres competition, he was however 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 Oliveria’s blades. He later apologised for the timing of his remarks, but not the content of his complaint.

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.

oscar-pistorius-london-2012Australian runner Jack Swift, USA runner Jerome Singleton, and other athletes also expressed support for Pistorius’s position.

On September 5 Pistorius won gold 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. He failed to defend his Beijing Olympics 100 metres 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.

On September 8, the last full ay of competing, Oscar Pistorius won gold in the T44 400 metres with a time of 46.68 seconds, breaking the Paralympic record.

 

Achievements in All Sports Events

Date Event Result Time
  • 100m T44
2004 USA Gold 11.62
September 17 – 28, 2004 2004 Summer Paralympics Athens, Greece Bronze 11.16
May 15, 2005 2005 Visa Paralympic World Cup Manchester, England, United Kingdom Gold 11.23
September 5, 2006 IPC World Championships Assen, Netherlands Gold 11.32
April 4, 2007 Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa Gold 10.91
(world_record)
June 1, 2008 Dutch Open National Championships Emmeloord, Netherlands Gold 11.48
June 6, 2008 Sportfest Duisburg, Germany Gold 11.42
September 8, 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics Beijing, People’s Republic of China Gold 11.17
January 26, 2011 IPC World Championships Christchurch, New Zealand Silver 11.34
  • 200m T44
2004 USA Gold 22.71
September 17 – 28, 2004 2004 Summer Paralympics Athens, Greece Gold 21.97
May 15, 2005 2005 Visa Paralympic World Cup Manchester, England, United Kingdom Gold 22.01
September 8, 2006 IPC World Championships Assen, Netherlands Gold 21.80
21.66, World Record in the Semi-finals
April 5, 2007 Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa Gold 21.58
May 31, 2008 Dutch Open National Championships Emmeloord, Netherlands Gold 22.04
June 15, 2008 German Open National Championships Berlin, Germany Gold 21.77
September 13, 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics Beijing, People’s Republic of China Gold 21.67
Paralympic Record
January 24, 2011 IPC World Championships Christchurch, New Zealand Gold 21.80
September 2, 2012 2012 Summer Paralympics London, England, United Kingdom Silver 21.52
21.30 T43 World Record in the Semi-finals
  • 400 T44
September 4, 2006 IPC World Championships Assen, Netherlands Gold 49.42
June 1, 2008 Dutch Open National Championships Emmeloord, Netherlands Gold 47.92
September 16, 2008 2008 Summer Paralympics Beijing, People’s Republic of China Gold 47.49
January 29, 2011 IPC World Championships Christchurch, New Zealand Gold 48.37
September 8, 2012 2012 Summer Paralympics London, England, United Kingdom Gold 46.68
  • 4x100m relay T42-T46
January 29, 2011 IPC World Championships Christchurch, New Zealand Gold 42.80
September 5, 2012 2012 Summer Paralympics London, England, United Kingdom Gold 41.78
  • 400m able bodied
March 17, 2007 2007 Senior South African National Championships Durban, South Africa Silver 46.56
July 19, 2011 Meeting Internazionale di Atletica Sports Solidarity, Lignano, Italy 1st Place 45.07
June 29, 2012 2012 African Championships in Athletics, Porto-Novo, Benin Silver 45.52
August 4, 2012 2012 London Olympics London, United Kingdom   45.44
First Round,16th out of 51 Athletes – seasonal best
  • 4×400 relay able bodied
September 1, 2011 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Daegu, South Korea Silver 2min 59.21
July 1, 2012 2012 African Championships in Athletics, Porto-Novo, Benin Silver 3min 04.01

 

 

 

Prosthetics

It has long been argued that the artificial limbs give Oscar Pistorius an advantage over runners with natural ankles and feet. His prosthetics are J-shaped and are called “Flex-Foot Cheetah” developed by biomedical engineer Van Phillips and manufactured by Össur.

On March 26, 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”. The IAAF claimed that the amendment to its competition rules was not specifically aimed at Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar-Pistorius-2012The IAAF monitored his track performances using high-definition cameras to decide whether or not he was running with an unfair advantage during his race against Italian club runners in Rome on 13 July, and his 400 metres in Sheffield on 15 July 2007, at which he placed last.

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 Mr. 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.

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.” 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.

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”

oscar-pistorius-bladesOn April 2008 Oscar Pistorius appeared before the tribunal in in Lausanne, Switzerland where he appealed against the adverse decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

On 16 May 2008, following a two-day hearing, 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 bio-mechanics only at full-speed when he was running in a straight line, 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.

Oscar Pistorius responded to the ruling by saying “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.”

 

Further Accolades and Recognition

In 2006 Oscar Pistorius was conferred the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by then President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki for outstanding achievement in sports.

In December 2007 he 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.

In May 2008 Oscar Pistorius made the “Time 100” – Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people, he  appeared third in the “Heroes & Pioneers” section.

In 2012 he he made the list again, he was also awarded the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and was honoured with the unveiling of a large mural depicting his achievements in the town of Gemona, Italy.

In that year Oscar 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, he later failed to win as the award went to two other athletes.

Following the Olympic Games of 2012 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 recognize their inspiring achievements and we look forward to welcoming them to the university in November.

 

 

Personal Life

Pistorius is a English-speaking white South African with Italian ancestry from his mother’s grandfather, an Italian emigrant to Kenya.

oscar-pistorius-leaves-courtOscar Pistorius credits his mother, who died at the age of 43 when Pistorius was 15 years old, as a major influence in his life. He has 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. 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.”

In 2008 Pistorius’s autobiography, Dream Runner, was published in Italian with Gianni Merlo, a journalist with La Gazzetta dello Sport.

oscar_pistorius_reeva_steenkampIn 2009 an English version entitled Blade Runner was released.

In February 2009 Oscar 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. Despite initial concerns about his fitness, Pistorius recovered fully, the accident only affected his training and running schedule for that year.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp

In 2010 Oscar Pistorius played in the Laureus World Sports Awards Golf Challenge at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and the Help-net Fund Celebrity Charity Golf Day. He 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.

He is a supporter of Italian Serie A football club Lazio.

In October 2012 Oscar Pistorius and then girlfriend Samantha Taylor appeared on SABC 3’s lifestyle magazine show, Top Billing, on holiday in the Seychelles with presenter Lorna Maseko, now Lukhele.

In November 2012 Pistorius arrived at the South African Sports Awards Bash in Sandton with Reeva Steenkamp, raising the question of the whereabouts of  Samantha Taylor  as well as the status of their relationship.

On February 14, 2013 Oscar Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp at his Silverwoods Country Estate home in Pretoria, Gauteng.

 

 

Murder Trial

Oscar Pistorius trial over the shooting and death of model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp took place at he North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa.  The trial of Oscar Pistorius reached judgement on September 11 and 12, 2014.

On October 21, 2014 Oscar Pistorius began serving his 5 year sentence at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria.

On December 10, 2014 Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the prosecution can appeal the culpable homicide conviction in pursuit of a murder conviction.

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