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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Carl Lennard Pistorius OIB, born 22 November 1986) is a South African sprint runner and convicted murderer. Both of Pistorius' legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He was the first athlete to compete at the Paralympic games and Olympic games, competing in sprint events for below-knee amputees in Paralympic events, and in able-bodied sprint events.

After becoming a Paralympic champion, Pistorius attempted to enter able-bodied international competition, over persistent objections of the IAAF and charges that his artificial limbs gave an unfair advantage. Pistorius eventually prevailed in this legal dispute. At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men's 400 metres and 4 × 400 metres relay races. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Pistorius won gold medals in the men's 400-metre race and in the 4 × 100 metres relay, setting world records in both events. He also took silver in the 200-metre race, having set a world record in the semifinal.

On Valentine's Day 2013, Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in his Pretoria home. He said he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in the bathroom, but he was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial the following year, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide. He received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction. In November, prosecutors asked the sentencing judge for permission to appeal the verdict. Permission was granted in December, and the case was presented to a five-person panel at the Supreme Court of Appeal. His release from prison to house arrest was announced for 21 August 2015, but this was placed "on hold" on 19 August. On 15 October 2015 it was confirmed that Pistorius was to be released from prison on 20 October; however, he was released on 19 October. On 3 December 2015 the Appeal Court overturned the culpable homicide verdict and convicted him of murder. On 8 December 2015 Pistorius was bailed to house arrest pending an appeal to the South African Constitutional Court. His appeal was denied on 3 March 2016. Pistorius is next due in court on 13 June 2016 to be sentenced for the murder conviction; the hearing will last 5 days concluding on 17 June 2016.

Pistorius competes in T44 (single below-knee amputees) events though he is actually classified in T43 (double below knee amputee). 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 (one leg amputated below the knee) 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 both possessing a single amputation, Marlon Shirley and Brian Frasure.

In 2005, Pistorius finished sixth in the able-bodied 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. At the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships, Pistorius won gold in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre events, breaking the world record over 200 metres. On 17 March 2007, he set a disability sports world record for the 400 metres (46.56 seconds) at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban; and at the Nedbank Championships for the Physically Disabled held in Johannesburg in April 2007, he became the world record holder of the 100- and 200-metre events with times of 10.91 and 21.58 seconds respectively.

Pistorius was invited by the IAAF to take part in what would have been his first international able-bodied event, the 400-metre race at the IAAF Grand Prix in Helsinki, Finland, in July 2005. He was unable to attend, however, because of school commitments. On 13 July 2007, Pistorius ran in the 400-metre race at Rome's Golden Gala and finished second in run B with a time of 46.90 seconds, behind Stefano Braciola who ran 46.72 seconds. This was a warm-up for his appearance at the 400 metres at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield on 15 July 2007. As American Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner stumbled at the start of the race and stopped running, Pistorius took seventh place in a field of eight in wet conditions with a time of 47.65 seconds. However, he was later disqualified for running outside his lane. The race was won by American Angelo Taylor with a time of 45.25 seconds.Pistorius had ambitions of competing in other able-bodied events. In particular, he had set his sights on competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, but was ultimately not selected by the South African Olympic Committee

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