Oscar Pistorius – the Blade Runner | Sunday Observer

Oscar Pistorius – the Blade Runner

5 December, 2021

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius was born to Henke and Sheila Pistorius on November 22, 1986 in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. He grew up in a Christian home and has an elder brother, Carl and a younger sister, Aimée. Pistorius credits his mother, who died at the age of 43 when Pistorius was 15 years, as a major influence in his life.

Fibular hemimelia

Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) in both legs. When he was eleven months old, both of his legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles. He attended Constantia Kloof Primary School and Pretoria Boys High School, where he played rugby union in the school’s third XV team. He played water polo and tennis at provincial level between the ages of 11 and 13. In addition, Pistorius took part in club Olympic wrestling, and trained at Jannie Brooks’s garage gym in Pretoria. Brooks remarked that it took six months before he noticed that Pistorius “had no legs” but nonetheless was able to do many exercises including “boxing, skipping and doing press-ups.”

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius

After a serious rugby knee injury in June 2003, he was introduced to running in January 2004 while undergoing rehabilitation at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre with coach Ampie Louw and “never looked back”. His first racing blades were fitted by South African prosthetist Francois van der Watt. Because he was unable to find suitable running blades in Pretoria, Van der Watt ordered the pair to be made by a local engineer. However, as these quickly broke, Van der Watt referred Pistorius to American prosthetist and Paralympic sprinter Brian Frasure to be fitted for blades by Icelandic company Össur.

Blade Runner

Sometimes referred to as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man on no legs,” Pistorius took part in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and came third overall in the T44, 100-metre event. Despite falling in the preliminary round for the 200 metres, he qualified for the final. He went on to win the final in a world record time of 21.97 seconds, beating a pair of American runners, Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure, both with single amputees.

In 2005, Pistorius finished sixth in the non-disabled South African Championships over 400 metres with a world-record time of 47.34 seconds, and at the Paralympic World Cup in the same year, he won gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres, beating his previous 200-metre world record.

Pistorius had ambitions of competing in other non-disabled events. In particular, he had set his sights on competing at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, but was not selected by the South African Olympic Committee.

Pistorius has been the subject of criticism because of claims that his artificial limbs gave him an advantage over runners with natural ankles and feet. He runs with J-shaped carbon-fibre prostheses called the ‘Flex-Foot Cheetah’ developed by biomedical engineer Van Phillips and manufactured by Össur.


On March 26,2007, the IAAF changed its competition rules to include a ban on the use of “any technical device that is similar to springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete.” The IAAF stated that the amendment was not specifically aimed at Pistorius. To decide whether he was running with an unfair advantage, the IAAF monitored his track performances using high-definition cameras to film his race against Italian club runners in Rome on July 13, and his 400 metres in Sheffield on July 15, 2007, at which he was placed last.

In December, Brüggemann told Die Welt newspaper that Pistorius “has considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs who were tested by us. It was more than just a few percentage points. I did not expect it to be so clear.” Based on these findings, on January 14, 2008, the IAAF ruled Pistorius’s prostheses ineligible for use in competitions conducted under the IAAF rules, including the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. He appealed.

2008 Summer Paralympics

Pistorius participated in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing in the 100, 200 and 400 metres (T44). On Septembe 9 , in the heats of the 100 metres, he set a Paralympic record with his time of 11.16 seconds. Later, following a slow start, he rallied to snatch gold from the United States’ Jerome Singleton in the 100 metres in a time of 11.17 seconds, 0.03 seconds ahead of the silver medallist. Four days later, on September 13 , the defending Paralympic champion in the 200-metre sprint won his second gold in the event in a time of 21.67 seconds, setting another Paralympic record. He completed a hat-trick by winning gold in the 400 metres in a world-record time of 47.49 seconds on September 16 , calling it “a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Pistorius also carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics on August 29 . In the 200-metre competition, Pistorius established a new T43 world record of 21.30 seconds in his heat on 1 September, but he was defeated in the final the next day by Alan Oliveira of Brazil. Pistorius took silver.

In 2006, Pistorius was conferred the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze (OIB) by then President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, for outstanding achievement in sports. On 9 December 2007, Pistorius was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award, which is conferred for outstanding courage and achievement in the face of difficulties. This was later revoked following his conviction for murder. (TBR)