Famed South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee to participate in the Olympics, when in London in 2012 he ran in the 400 meter race, and was a member of South Africa’s 4×400 meter relay team.  Because of this triumph, and his success in the 2012 summer paralympics, Pistorius became an international symbol of perseverance.  However, the Blade Runner’s triumphant narrative took an unexpected turn on February 14, when he was arrested in his home in South Africa for the deliberate murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

 

Even though Pistorius’s family has continued to maintain that he is innocent, new reports have emerged that Pistorius and Steenkamp allegedly fought the night of the shooting.  Pistorius is known as an avid sports fan and adventure seeker, previously bragging on Twitter of his marksmanship with a handgun: “Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50shots! Bam!”  He even was known to go to a shooting range when he couldn’t sleep.  Unfortunately, this tale involves a gun as well.

 

Pistorius told the police that he shot his girlfriend when he accidentally mistook her for an intruder.  But police are now reporting that Steenkamp locked herself in the bathroom where he proceeded to shoot her to death.  This was after allegedly shooting her in the bedroom, while she was wearing a nightgown, and with a packed overnight bag the police later found.  After allegedly shooting her in the head, arm, and hand, he carried her body downstairs where his sister arrived and Pistorius told her about Steenkamp being a burglar.

 

As the investigation continues, esteemed South African newspaper City Press reports a central piece of evidence has emerged–a bloody cricket bat.  The police are investigating multiple scenarios involving the bat, the most disturbing of which involves Pistorius assaulting Steenkamp with it.  Police are now reporting Steenkamp’s skull was “crushed,” and the bat was covered in blood– leading police to pursue forensic exams to discover whose blood is on the bat.  Additionally, the police have ordered a blood test be performed on Pistorius, specifically looking to see if drugs or steroids were present in his system.  More details continue to come to light, including a possible love-triangle with Steenkamp and a South African rugby player.

 

The police have even moved so far as to eliminate Pistorius’s excuse of mistaking her for an intruder, noting no forced entry to the home.  Sources with intimate knowledge of the investigation told City Press that the state has a “rock-solid” case against Pistorius.  If that is indeed true, and he is found guilty of murder, he faces a potential lifetime prison sentence and will first be able to apply for parole in twenty-five years when he is fifty one years old.

 

Regardless of his ultimate fate in a court of law, Pistorius may have run his final races.  His agent has canceled all his future races while Pistorius continues sitting in jail for the pending charge.  Even though his sponsors are standing by the Olympian for the moment it may not be too long before Pistorius enters the pantheon of disgraced sports figures that include Jayson Williams, and most notably, O.J. Simpson.

 

–Jeremy P. Gove

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3 Responses to From Olympic Hero to Murderer?

  1. Swathi says:

    Interesting question Mary Fletcher. I don’t think the US has the authority to deny competitors who have rightfully earned a place on the Olympic team from representing the country due to past indiscretions. Of course, I say that with the caveat that if the International Olympic Committee has banned them from participation, then of course, the athlete cannot compete. However, Marion Jones and Maurice Green both attempted track comebacks for recent Olympics, and while their times were too slow, nobody prohibited the attempt. My guess is they would have been allowed to compete had they been able to run fast enough. Perhaps the better example is the one you mention: Michael Phelps. He successfully competed in London despite the infamous pictures we all so post-Beijing.

    That isn’t to say that more autocratic countries operate differently. I recall a story of Nadia Comaneci not being allowed to participate in gymnastics exhibitions in the early 1980s because of fears that she would defect. Not sure what they would have done had she tried to compete in the 1984/1988 Olympics.

  2. Mary Fletcher King says:

    As an update, articles have stated that Nike and Oakley have pulled/suspended their contracts with him. If companies are able to do this, due to morality clauses, codes of conduct, criminal behavior clauses in the contract, can countries do this? I don’t know the Olympic rules and qualifications, but if Kellogg could sever ties with Michael Phelps since “Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg,” and these companies can sever ties with Pistorius, can a country decide that a competitor plagued by scandal or who perhaps supports controversial things, is not considered “consistent with the image” the country wishes to promote and advertise to the world and therefore ban him from representing them at the Olympics? I’d be interested to know how much control countries have in deciding who represents them at the games, or if everything is done objectively by time.

  3. Caitlin Angelette says:

    The story really seems fishy to me. I’d say his defense doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    …Sorry.