The story of Oscar Pistorius is unlike any other. Incredibly gifted Paralympic athlete qualifies and competes in Olympics. Tragically, after all that success, he kills his model girlfriend and now sits in prison.
However, before all of the headlines and fame, his story had quite a unique and challenging start. He was a double-amputee at less than a year old. How did Oscar Pistorius lose his legs?
Oscar Pistorius becomes a star
Oscar Pistorius burst onto the scene at the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games setting a world record in the 200 meters. He was just getting started. At both the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics, Pistorious dominated both the 100m and 200m competitions.
It was also in 2012 when he became a household name. At the Summer Olympic Games in London, Pistorius became the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympic Games, racing in the 400-meter and the 4 X 400-meter race.
Oscar Pistorius was impressive in the 400, where he finished second in his qualifying heat. He followed it up with an eighth-place finish in the second semi-final. In the relay finals, Pistorius ran the final leg and the South African team finished eighth.
Oscar Pistorius kills his girlfriend
Despite not winning any medals, Oscar Pistorius’ stardom was at an all-time high following the Olympics. Then, six months later, he found himself in the headlines for a very different reason. Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in what he later described in court as a perceived intruder incident.
Pistorius was originally found guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm-related charge of reckless endangerment and received a maximum sentence of five years. The court updated that charge in 2016 to 15 years, minus the time already served.
Oscar Pistorius is eligible for parole in 2023.
What happened to his legs?
While Oscar Pistorius excelled in track to heights no one could have ever imagined, he overcame tremendous odds to do it. It started in 1986 when he was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, with five fingers on each hand and two toes on each foot. Both of his legs were missing the fibulas.
The deformations forced his parents to make a tough decision about their son’s future. Did they want him to live the rest of his life in a wheelchair? Or, did they want to amputate his legs and let him learn to walk with prosthetics? After consulting with various surgeons, the parents made the agonizing choice and opted for the surgery.
At 11 months old, Oscar Pistorius had surgery to remove both of his legs halfway between his knees and ankles. Amazingly, just six months later, the young boy took his first steps on a pair of fiberglass pegs. Those early steps were the beginning of something special.
While Oscar Pistorius’ story has a tragic ending and he remains in prison for the crime he committed, that doesn’t diminish the incredible challenges he managed to overcome early in his life and the many accomplishments he achieved later in the world of track.