WHO IS THE GOLDEN BOY?
By: Aphiwe Ngwenya
“Oscar kills model girlfriend!” For weeks on end we have been bombarded with Pistorius news; whether or not he killed his girlfriend intentionally or if he mistook her for an intruder.
Murders have become such a norm in South Africa so much so that citizens have become desensitized. So, what makes this one unique?
Undoubtedly Oscar Pistorius captured the hearts of the nation and the world when he became the fastest runner with no legs. It may not have been the typical story from many athletes, but Oscar was never an athlete until he shattered his knee while playing rugby for Pretoria Boys High School in 2003. As part of his rehabilitation at the Sports Science Institute at the University of Pretoria under athletics coach Ampie Louw, he got introduced to athletics.
In January 2004 he ran his first competitive race, running 100m for his school at a time of 11.72s. He unexpectedly broke the Paralympic record of 12.20s, as discovered by his father Henk. Later that year, he qualified and competed in the 2004 Athens Paralympics, winning the T44 200m gold medal, breaking the record in a time of 21.97s. Oscar was an instant success!
Oscar occupied the front and back pages, as his talent propelled him to stardom. Small and mainstream media had something to say about the Blade Runner. At just 17years of age he had already broken world records, won two medals at the Paralympics- all this in his debut season. His plans of continuing with rugby or cricket were now a thing of a past. He had been thrust into athletics by circumstance, a circumstance that has led to destiny.
Oscars’ success was not short lived. Ossur Manufacturer had made his Flex-Foot Cheetah blades, which he continued using during all competitions. Oscar continued breaking records and shocking the world. Having excelled in the Paralympics and other major championships, he became drawn into the idea of competing with able-bodied athletes- that’s where all controversy began.
In 2007, he went to get his blades tested,as it was believed that they gave him an unfair advantage. Tests were undertaken at the Cologne Sports University under the guidance of Professor of Biomechanics, Dr Peter Brüggemann, in conjunction with Mr Elio Locatelli, who is responsible with the IAAF for all technical issues. Both doctors concluded that his blades gave an unfair advantage, which Pistorius appealed. IAAF Executive Council voted to ratify the decision and Pistorius was banned from all able-bodied athletics competitions.
In proving the IAAF wrong, Oscar took part in scientific tests at Rice University in Houston, USA. The research teamincluded professors Hugh Herr and Rodger Kram. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in Pistorius’ favour citing that “the athlete is eligible to compete in IAAF-sanctioned events while wearing Össur Flex-Foot Cheetah prosthesis model”. The report stated that there was no evidence that Oscar had any net advantage over able-bodied athletes. In the initial report, it was not considered that his starting wasslow, as his blades needed heating up. During the tests he had been made to run in a straight line unlike the curved tracks on the field.
Through all the controversy that occurred at the start of the year, Pistorius was able to win the T44 100m, 200m & 400m Paralympic golds in Beijing, setting a new Paralympic record of 47.49s in the 400m.
In his achievements he has become a man of many first:
· Selected for the South African IAAF World Championships team in the 400m and 4x400m relay. South Africa finished second in the 4x400m final but Oscar was not selected for the team. He was awarded a silver medal for his inclusion in the heats and so became the first Paralympic athlete to win a World Championship medal.
· Selected to compete in the individual 400m and the 4x400m relay at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
· He also had become the first athlete to win gold medals in the T44 100m, 200m and 400m.
JoëlPalix, President of the Clarins Fragrance Group, had this to say about Oscar,
“Oscar Pistorius boasts all the skills of an exceptional athlete with the confident attitude that characterizes great champions. More than aesthetics or performances, Oscar is a story, a destiny, a childhood dream… and a wonderful life lesson. With the winning spirit that characterize the man, his background, his philosophy, his inner strength and his incredible determination, Oscar Pistorius embodies Thierry Mugler A*Men image and values close to perfection. Which is certainly why Oscar has been wearing the A*Men fragrance for many years!”
As with all his controversy, during the 2012 London Paralympics he suffered his first defeat in eight years when he came second in the 200m final behind Brazil’s Alan Oliveira. Losing seems not to be Oscar’s strong point as he was cited for bad sportsmanship.
Through all the years, Oscar Pistorius has been this country’s golden boy. His ability to disregard his disability has been an inspiration to many physically challenged people around the globe. He has shown the world that no matter what the challenges that come your way, there is always a possibility to get through them. Being born without a fibular was not his choice, and the manner his parents raised him was no different. “My parents didn’t give me any scope to feel sorry for myself. They were just like ‘go play with your brother, go climb a tree, go fall off your motorbike, do whatever you want. Don’t come crying to us when you get scratched. You’ve got prosthetic legs – that’s very nice,” says Oscar. This has made Oscar who he is today.
Now both loved and hated around the world, his achievements shall remain. “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have,” Oscar Pistorius.