Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner"s meteoric rise – and his bitterness after London 2012


A ladies’ man who cures his insomnia with nights on the gun range: Blade Runner’s meteoric rise – and his bitterness after London 2012
He visits South African gun range with his 9mm pistol when he can't sleepPistorius got his biblical shoulder tattoo on a whim at 2am
After Paralympics he threatened to break legs of man linked to ex-girlfriendHe was linked to various women while dating ex-girlfriend Samantha TaylorAfter break-up she said: 'Oscar is certainly not what people think he is'In 2008 he broke ribs and had 172 stitches in face after crashing power boat Pistorius now charged with murder of FHM model Reeva Steenkamp

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Oscar
Pistorius after winning his gold medal at the Paralympic games in 2012.
He is the world's most famous Paralympian and first to compete in
able-bodied Olympics

Blade runner: Pistorius competes at the World Championships in Daegu last year

It's a dog's life: Pistorius at his house in Pretoria with his dogs Enzo (right) and Silo (left)

It's a dog's life: Pistorius at his house in Pretoria with his dogs Enzo (right) and Silo (left)

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius' legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old

Pistorius was born 26 years ago into a prominent family in Pretoria without fibulas, the outer of the bones that run between the knee and the ankle.

His parents, Sheila and Henke, grappled with information, complied with doctors’ advice, and at 11 months his legs were amputated below the knee.

‘It was a hugely emotional decision,’ said Dr Gerry Versfeld, the orthopaedic surgeon who performed the operation. ‘It is easier now to convince somebody the right way to go is amputation because Oscar Pistorius is an icon you can point to and say, “Look, this is possible”.’

Much of his success is attributed to the fact he was always treated as a ‘normal little boy’.

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Walking on the wild side: Pistorius squares up to Anthony the cheetah

Oscar Pistorius was in high school
when he showed up at Jannie Brooks’s garage gym in Pretoria, South
Africa, with a group of friends looking to get fitter.

He boxed, skipped and did press-ups
until he threw up. It was six months before Brooks realised he had no
legs. ‘He was just one of the bunch, doing everything at the same pace
as everybody else,’ he said.

‘Between the classroom and the fields there were two sets of stairs,’ said Tessa Shellard, who taught Pistorius maths and PE. ‘I used to cringe because he would always run down. I closed my eyes waiting for him to fall. But he never did.

‘His legs would chafe and give him enormous blisters on his stumps but he did rugby, cricket, football and absolutely everything else.

‘He wasn’t quick at all because of his heavy legs but in inter-house athletics, Oscar would do the sprints every year knowing full well he would come last.’

His can-do attitude made him popular with classmates. During annual triathlons, one friend would carry him on his back while carrying his legs. When it came to the swimming, he threw his legs on to the side of the pool and dived straight in. At cycling, he would do 20km stretches as a 12-year-old without complaint.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius at his house in Pretoria. Pretoria, South Africa, Farm Inn game reserve

Hugh Herr, director of the Biomechatronics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a close friend of Pistorius, said his quick cycling is because his hips are a ‘huge engine’. This also allows him to reposition his limbs quicker and complete the 400m, his favoured event, in a personal best of 45.07sec, a time never thought possible for an amputee.

At 13, Pistorius began boarding at Pretoria Boys School. ‘During the admissions interview I had concerns about how a legless boy would fare with the rough and tumble of a school of 1500 teenagers,’ said Bill Shroeder, headteacher of the school until 2009. ‘All his mother could say was, “Of course he’ll cope”. That was how she brought him up — to be completely normal.’

Pistorius went down in school folklore when, during a rugby match, a player from the opposite team tackled him. ‘His legs came off in the boy’s arms,’ said Shroeder. ‘But he carried on running over the line, I think the other kid still has nightmares.’

OSCAR'S CHEETAH FLEX FOOT

Oscar wears the Ossur Cheetah Flex-foot Artificial Sprinting Leg

Cost approx 1,300

Made of carbon fibre, manufactured in Iceland

Each blade weighs 512g (18.1oz)

The prosthesis’ ‘J’ curve shape resembles the hind quarter of a cheetah, the fastest animal on land

He only has one pair – he trains and competes in the same blades – and he’s been using the current pair since 2003

Spikes are taken from an ordinary Nike shoe

Knee sockets are moulded specially around Oscar’s joints, with additional soft cushioning

Pistorius threw himself into sport following his mother’s death when he was 15, but suffered a knee injury playing rugby in 2003. He did athletics as a form of rehab at the University of Pretoria.

Less than a year later, he lit up the Athens Paralympics aged 17, winning gold in the 200m and bronze in the 100m in the T44 class, which also includes single below-the-knee amputees.

‘Within months he was an icon,’ said Shroeder. ‘My biggest challenge was keeping a teenager who was the envy of every kid on the straight and narrow.’

He was expected to take home a haul of paralympic golds at London 2012 but failed to deliver.

His first final was in the 200m, where he finished a shock second to Brazilian Alan Oliveira and accused rivals in an angry outburst, including his young conqueror, of running on blades that were too long.

Then he had to settle for fourth place in the 100m individual event when the glory went to Britain’s new track icon, Jonnie Peacock.

But this defeat and the outburst were followed by a measure of redemption when Pistorius anchored his country’s 4 x 100m relay gold in a world record time.

Books and memorabilia of heroes from Nelson Mandela to Iron Mike Tyson, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Valentino Rossi, now fill the shelves and walls of his Pretoria home, a sprawling mansion on the Silverwoods Golf Estate, where he allegedly shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at 4am this morning.

Oscar Pistorius at his house in Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius relaxing in front of his trophy cabinet

He allegedly shot her four times in the head, chest and arms with a 9mm handgun.

Local media have claimed he did so either by accident in a Valentines Day surprise gone wrong or having mistaken Miss Steenkamp for an intruder.

Neither claim has been confirmed.

Oscar Pistorius' father Henke, meanwhile said: 'If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar. He's sad at the moment.'

Pistorius' publicist Peet van Zyl said: 'Oscar is a humble person and lovely guy – am sure what's happened was terrible mistake'.

His sporting trophies, including the first award he won as a 12-year-old wrestler and that famous TV camera that marks him out as a recipient of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award for remarkable courage in the face of adversity, take up the space next to the whisky cabinet and pictures of his racehorses.

Pistorius, once voted South Africa’s sexiest celebrity now earns more than 1m a year in deals to promote everything from perfume to groceries and telecommunications.

If Pistorius is charged and convicted with murder, he is unlikely to serve life in prison as the country's full term imprisonment rule only kicks in for premeditated murder.

But there is also a chance he may escape punishment.

In 2004 charges against a South African rugby player who shot and killed his daughter were dropped when the country's prosecuting agency decided he had suffered enough.

VIDEO Reeva posed for men's magazines and acted on TV & commercials

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