OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL
The sensational rise and fall of double amputee athletics champion Oscar Pistorius has captured the imagination of his home country and the world as he goes on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The course of his remarkable life and his athletic achievements, in particular, have seen the media follow his every move.
Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia, a congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11 months old, his parents made the tough decision to have his legs amputated halfway between his knees and ankles.
Growing up in Gauteng, Pistorius fully engaged with different sporting codes at school and was reportedly involved in water polo, tennis and wrestling. A rugby injury to his knee saw him take up running and it was his prowess in this sporting code which put him on the map as a track champion in later years.
Pistorius’s first racing blades were fitted by South African prosthetist Francois van der Watt. However, the most enduring design of Pistorius’s prosthetics came about after van der Watt referred him to American prosthetist and Paralympic sprinter Brian Frasure to be fitted for blades by Icelandic company Össur.
Pistorius thereafter became known as the ‘Blade Runner’ and shored up medals at various track events across the world.
He relentlessly pursued an ambition to participate in the able-bodied Olympics, while fielding criticism that his prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage on the track.
On 26 March 2007, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) amended its competition rules to include a ban on the use of “any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device”.
Pistorius appealed the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and appeared before the tribunal in April 2008. In May 2008 the court upheld his appeal and the IAAF council decision was immediately revoked.
In 2012, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced that Pistorius had been included in the Olympic team for the 400 metres and the 4 × 400 metres relay races.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics on 4 August 2012, Pistorius made history by becoming the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games.
It is against this backdrop of achievements and accolades that the world was left in shock and disbelief when, on the morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed by boyfriend Pistorius at his Pretoria home. Pistorius was taken into police custody and formally charged with Steenkamp’s murder.
While Pistorius claims the shooting was a case of mistaken identity, the state argues it was murder.
Pistorius also faces other charges relating to firearms.
The high-profile athlete will go on trial on Monday 3 March.
On 25 February 2014, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled that Multichoice and Primedia would be allowed to broadcast the entire trial on radio as well as video of certain portions.