Volatile Pistorius’ darker side: How Blade Runner became Blade Gunner

December 5, 2015 6:19 am

At the 2012 London Olympics, before 80,000 roaring fans and a
constellation of camera flashes, it took Oscar Pistorius 45.44 seconds
to become a global icon.
His sprint around the 400m track was the first time in history that a double-amputee had raced at the Olympic Games.
The
race capped a triumph over adversity for Pistorius. His journey from
disabled child to world-class athlete seemed to embody the very best of
sporting endeavour and the human spirit.
Then on Valentine’s Day in 2013, his achievements were just as quickly demolished.
In
the early hours of the morning at his upmarket Pretoria home he shot
and killed his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, apparently
believing her to be an intruder.

For months he sat in a windowless courtroom, and watched as his world was washed away.
His sparkling career was cut short, sponsors dumped him and he was forced to sell his homes amid mounting legal bills.
He
was found guilty of murder on Thursday by South Africa’s Supreme Court
of Appeal, which dramatically threw out his earlier conviction of
culpable homicide, saying his testimony had been “vacillating and
untruthful”.
He had served one year of a five-year jail sentence before being released to house arrest in October.
The
athlete had sobbed, shaken and vomited in the dock as details of his
lover’s brutal death were examined in excruciating detail during his
trial while the eyes of the world were transfixed.
The “Blade
Runner” – an epithet earned for his trademark prosthetic legs that
powered him to fame as a Paralympic gold medallist – became the “Blade
Gunner”. “He’s not only broke, but he is broken, there is nothing left,”
lawyer Barry Roux told his sentencing hearing.
Time and again during his trial the court was told about “two Oscars” – one a hero, the other a victim.
But
the high-profile proceedings also exposed the 29-year-old’s darker
side: offering glimpses of a dangerously volatile man with a penchant
for guns, beautiful women and fast cars.
In 2009, he spent a
night in jail after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a party
in a case that was settled out of court.
Two years later, he was
accused of firing a gun through the sunroof of an ex-girlfriend’s moving
car, although a court found there was not enough evidence to convict
him on that charge.




Weeks before he shot Steenkamp, he discharged a gun by accident at a Johannesburg restaurant.
“Oscar is certainly not what people think he is,” ex-lover and trial witness Samantha Taylor has said.
Pistorius
has long been open about his love for guns. The sprinter slept with a
pistol under his bed at his home in a high-security estate for fear of
burglars.
Once held in Amsterdam after gunpowder residue was
detected on his prosthetics, he also took a New York Times journalist
interviewing him to a shooting range.
The writer described him
driving at 250km/h, double the speed limit, and referred to Pistorius as
having “a fierce, even frenzied need to take on the world at maximum
speed and with minimum caution”.
His passion for motorbikes,
adrenalin and speed is well documented. “He likes fast cars. He is just
built for speed,” his trainer Jannie Brooks told AFP. He also crashed
his boat on a river, breaking two ribs, an eye socket and his jaw. Empty
alcohol bottles were found in the boat.
He once owned two white tigers but sold them to a zoo in Canada when they became too big.
Born
in 1986 in Johannesburg without fibulas (calf bones), his parents
decided when he was 11 months old to have his legs amputated below the
knee so he could be fitted with prosthetic legs. This allowed him to
play sports unhindered while growing up. He excelled in many,
concentrating on running only after fracturing a knee playing rugby.
“It
was never made an issue. My mother would say to my brother, ‘You put on
your shoes, and Oscar, you put on your legs, then meet me at the car’,”
Pistorius said in a 2011 interview.
A middle child whose parents
divorced when he was 6, he has a problematic relationship with his
father Henke, but is close to his siblings who were at his side in
court.
His mother died when he was 15 and the date of her death is tattooed on his arm.
In 2004, just eight months after taking to the track, he smashed the 200m world record at the Athens Paralympics.
Next
up was the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games where he took the 100m, 200m
and 400m sprint titles and launched a battle to take part in the
able-bodied athletics, overcoming arguments that his custom-built
carbon-fibre running blades gave him an unfair advantage.
In 2011
he made history by becoming the first amputee to run at the World
Championships, where he took silver with South Africa’s 4x400m sprint
team.
“You’re not disabled by your disabilities but abled by your abilities,” he told Athlete magazine in an interview that year.
In 2012 he again made history by becoming the first double-amputee to compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics.
“He is the definition of global inspiration,” Time magazine proclaimed in its 2012 list of the world’s most influential people.
Less than a year later, Pistorius featured on the cover with the words “Man, Superman, Gunman”.

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