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How did Oscar Pistorius lose his legs?

21 Jan 2016, 10:09 IST
Oscar Pistorius
Pistorius won two gold medals and one silver medal at the London Paralympics

Oscar Carl Lennard Pistorius is the first amputee athlete to ever compete in a track event in Olympics. Also known as “The Blade Runner”, he achieved this amazing feat during 2012 London Olympics. He participated in 400 meters dash and even reached the semi-finals of the event. The Paralympic champion also has a silver medal in World Athletic Championships of 2011.

He was born without a fibula (commonly known as calf bone) in both his legs and, as a result, Pistorius’ legs were amputated halfway between his knees and ankles. His parents took this difficult decision just before his first birthday. However, within six months he started walking with the help of prosthetic legs.

Being handicapped did not dampen his love for sports. The sportsman in him never gave up and did not let his physical shortcoming come in the way. He liked to play extremely physically demanding games like wrestling, boxing and rugby. When asked about his sporting motto, he said “You are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have” and he has truly lived by it.

The South African sprint runner was born in Johannesburg on November 22, 1986. The son of Henk and Sheila Pistorius led a tragic life as a kid. Besides his own physical conditions, he had to deal with his parents’ strained relationship, who eventually divorced when he was only 6. He also had to cope up with his mother’s death when he was 15 and, as a result, his relationship with his father has also been very rough.

Pistorius loved rugby and was always inclined towards it a bit more than other sports. His relationship with the track started after an injury because of the sport he loved the most. He suffered a knee injury while playing rugby and started running on the track as a part of the rehab process following the injury. He soon discovered his talent in running and started taking the sport seriously.

In Paralympics, he competes in the T44 category(for athletes with one amputated leg below the knee) even though he is actually classified in T43 (double below knee amputee). Wearing a pair of Flexi Foot Cheetahs (light weight carbon fiber foot), he ran in his first Paralympics in Athens in 2004. 

He won the bronze medal in 100m and came first in the 200m event while creating the new world record of 21.91 seconds.  In 2005, he competed with able-bodied athletes in the South African Championships and came sixth in the 400 metres event.

And in the same year, he won both 100m and 200m events at the Paralympic World Cup and also bettered his own world record. At the 2006 Athletics Paralympics Championships, he again broke his own 200m world record and also won the 100m and 400m events.

Pistorius tried a lot to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but he could not produce the qualifying time. He competed in the Paralympic Games and won gold medals in 100m, 200m and 400m events.


His dream of competing with able-bodied athletes came true in 2011 when he was selected for the 400m event and the 4*400m relay team for the World Athletics’ Championships held in Daegu, South Korea. In 400m, he got through the qualifying with a time of 45.39 seconds but was eliminated in the semi-final.

He was the 15th fastest man for that event. Pistorius ran in the qualifying round of the 4*400m relay but, amidst a lot of controversies, was not included in the team thereof. South Africa later came second in the event and Pistorius was also awarded the medal as he was also a part of the team.

He also participated in those same events in the 2012 London Olympics but failed to win any medal. He then ran in the 2012 Paralympic games winning a gold in 100m and in the 4*100m relay and finishing second in the 200 metres event.

In February 2013, Pistorius's girlfriend, the famous South African model Reeva Steenkamp was found dead at his home in Pretoria. According to the police, she was shot dead on the morning of February 14th. Pistorius was named the main suspect in the case.

Five days, later on, 19th of February, Pistorius admitted having unintentionally shot his girlfriend mistaking her for an intruder.

He was suspected of murder and following his highly publicised and controversial trial he was acquitted of premeditated murder and on September 2014 was charged with culpable homicide and sentenced 5 years in prison.

He is currently under house arrest after spending only one of the previously sentenced five years in prison.

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