Rise & fall of Pistorius: What he taught us about disabled

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It will be too early to write-off Oscar Pistorius, more popularly known as "Blade Runner". The South African Olympic and Paralympic athlete is facing criminal charges of murdering his 30-year-old girlfriend. The unfolding of the latest tragedy, which occurred on Valentine's Day morning on Thursday has shocked the whole world.

According to latest report of BBC, the 26-year-old star sportsman is due to appear in the court to face murder charge after his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot and killed at his home near Pretoria.

Conflicting reports are emerging. Media reports suggest that Pistorius might have mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder and shot her. Few are suggesting the 26-year-old sportsman suffers from fiery mood, which might be the cause behind the tragedy.

Oscar Pistorius

The case is still shrouded in mystery. Arrest of the maverick athlete has stunned the country, where he is worshipped as a national hero.

Many have requested that case of Pistorius should not be viewed from the prism of "sensationalism".

"Whatever happened early yesterday morning at Oscar Pistorius' apartment in the Silverlakes complex, it will be up to a judge to decide if there was any criminal culpability. Until then, innocence needs to be presumed," says an editorial in Times Live.

Whatever may be the truth (which will emerge after proper investigation and trial of the case), ultimate truth about Pistorius is his attempt to highlight the cause of disabled population across the world.

Memories of London Olympics 2012 are still fresh in the minds of those who have watched Pistorius running on track (even on Television). All it brings to mind is utter joy and at times a sense of disbelief. For a spectator, Pistorius represents utter magic.

As one watches him, all we end up thinking is how could a man who was born without a fibula in both legs can run with such speed and elan? His legs were amputated below the knee before his first birthday. And it is same boy, who grew up to create history in London Olympics by becoming the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.

He is known as the "blade runner" because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he races in.

"He was a symbol, a moment in history, a one-man parade of the human will. He reached the semi-finals of the Olympic 400m before moving on to win silver in the T44 200m, gold in the 4x100 relay and gold in the T44 400m at the Paralympics, where he was a combination of poster boy and elder statesman," writes Paul Hayward in The Telegraph.

"His voice box was always working, his smile never extinguished, except for the day he stirred up controversy by accusing fellow Paralympian runners of adjusting the length of their blades to gain an edge. Even then he managed to present himself as the guardian of the sport, a fierce advocate of fair play," added Hayward.

According to BBC,"Pistorius dominated in his category at successive Paralympic Games, but in 2008 he won a legal battle over his blades - which critics said gave him an unfair advantage - with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the right to compete in able-bodied competitions."

"He reached the 400m semi-finals in the London 2012 Olympics. At the Paralympics he won silver in the T44 200m, gold in the 4x100 relay and gold in the T44 400m, setting a Paralympic record," added BBC.

In order to run along with fellow competitors in London Olympics, Pistorius fought with the authorities. His battle does not begins and ends on the track fields, he fought the battle of mindsets that hampers free thinking in regard to people having one or other disabilities. Prejudice rules when it comes to giving opportunities to disabled. The disabled don't need sympathy to uplift their situation, but empathy from able-bodied.

A determined and media savvy Pistorius would be often heard saying, "I'm not disabled, I just don't have legs."

But, how many people with disabilities are given an opportunity to speak their minds. At least not in India. According to Unitd Nations around 10 per cent of the world's population, or 650 million people, live with a disability. They are the world's largest minority. Poverty, stigma and illiteracy further pushes disabled population to the background. Hardly the world talks about issues facing the disabled population. They are the invisible minority.

Amidst such gloom and despondency, Pistorius stood up like a hero, who symbolises the will and determination of disabled people. His effort and triumph, not only motivates millions of disabled people across the world, but even an able bodied person.

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