Nothing aimless about life of pioneering athlete
Oscar Pistorius’s athletic achievements made him a global icon of triumph over adversity.
When Pistorius was born in Johannesburg in 1986, both his legs were without fibula bones. Just before his first birthday, surgeons amputated what was below his knees so he could be fitted with prosthetics.
His early years were beset by tragedy: his parents divorced before he was six and his mother died when he was just 15.
He took up athletics in 2004 following a rugby injury. Eight months later, he made his Paralympic debut, running on prosthetic carbon fibre blades known as cheetah blades and earning himself the nickname the “Blade Runner”.
It wasn’t long before he was beating more experienced single amputee rivals to gold in the 200m at the Athens Games. He won three more golds at the 2006 IPC World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands, and set a new world record over 200m.
Pistorius began to compete in able-bodied races in South Africa, but was banned in 2008 from able-bodied competition, due to claims his blades gave him an unfair advantage.
He had the decision overturned in the courts, too late for the Beijing Games (though he won several golds in the Paralympics there), but in time for the 2012 London Games. He was the first amputee athlete to compete in the Olympics.
A measure of his influence came in May 2008, when Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in its Heroes Pioneers section.
A tattoo on his back, from 1 Corinthians 9:26, reads: “I do not run like a man running aimlessly.”