Oscar Pistorius is a South African sprint runner who made history in 2012 as the first amputee to compete in track events at the Olympics.
He was nicknamed the “Blade Runner,” who endured both legs’ amputation as an infant but still became highly active in sports. He took up running at age 16, and within a few months, he had captured gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
Pistorius began competing against able-bodied athletes, and in 2012, made history as the first amputee to compete in track events at the Olympics.
He was born on November 22, 1986, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The son of Henk and Sheila Pistorius, Oscar Pistorius, was the middle child of three. His family, while prominent in South Africa, lived a largely middle-class lifestyle.
When he was 16 and in need of a sport that could help him rehab a knee injury sustained in a rugby match, Pistorius was introduced to track. His rise in the sport came quickly. In January 2004, he competed in his first 100-meter race; nearly eight months later, Pistorius, wearing a pair of Flex-Foot Cheetahs, a lightweight carbon fiber foot, captured the gold medal in the 200-meter race at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.
The runner’s artificial legs became a source of controversy. In 2007, the International Association of Athletic Foundations (IAAF) banned Pistorius from competing, stating that his artificial legs gave him an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes.
Pistorius immediately appealed the ruling, and in May 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the IAAF decision. After missing the cut for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, a determined Pistorius focused his training on making the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Along the way, Pistorius, nicknamed “Blade Runner” and also called the “fastest man on no legs,” captured three gold medals at the 2011 IPC Athletic World Championships. Two more titles followed in the 400-meter and 100-meter events at the BT Paralympics World Cup.
In spring 2012, Pistorius realized his ultimate dream when he qualified for the London Olympics 400-meter race. While he was eventually eliminated in the semifinal round, he secured his place in history by becoming the first amputee athlete to compete in track events at the Olympics.
He was later found guilty of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013. He was found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison.
A month after the conviction of Oscar Pistorius, prosecutors appealed the verdict and described the sentence as “shockingly light, inappropriate, and would not have been imposed by any reasonable court.” In November 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeal agreed and overturned the lower court’s culpable homicide decision and found him guilty of first-degree murder of his girlfriend, Steenkamp.
In December 2017, Oscar Pistorius filed papers to appeal the increased sentence and have his previous six-year sentence reinstated. In March 2018, Pistorius’ appeal was denied. He is not eligible for parole until at least 2023.