Oscar Pistorius: A Dark Morning In South Africa Shattered The Faith Of The World
Readers, you all probably know by now that Oscar Pistorius has this morning been formally charged in court with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend. His bail hearing has been postponed until Tuesday and he remains in custody at a police station.
BBC News has the latest on the story here.
Meanwhile, Independent Voices has published a very good article by a South African writer who describes the shock and anger that was felt yesterday throughout the nation at the fall of a national treasure.
I’m not South African, but I have to say, the piece took many of the thoughts out of my mind.
Disabled myself, I have been a fan of Oscar Pistorius since 2008, when I first became interested in Paralympic sport. Over the last five years, I have closely followed his fight to compete in the Olympics as well.
When he was cleared to compete in the Olympics at London 2012, I was thrilled for him.
To me, he hasn’t just been any celebrity. He has also been a disabled person who didn’t allow his disability to stop him living his dreams- firstly, to be a famous athlete, and secondly, to compete with able bodied athletes.
He has been a disabled person who has broken down barriers for disabled people worldwide in sport. Before he tried to compete in the Olympics, many dreamed of doing what he achieved, but few would have thought it would ever be possible. He proved them wrong- and disabled people everywhere thanked him for it.
He’s the Usain Bolt of Paralympic sport. When Channel 4 were talking about which Paralympians to look out for during London 2012, they listed eight or nine people from Team GB, and Oscar Pistorius.
The first time I saw a glimpse of his temper, during the Paralympics when he had the disagreement with Brazillian athlete Alan Oliviera over the length of his running blades, I smiled to myself and thanked Pistorius for showing the world that Paralympians, too, are passionate, professional sportspeople who play to win. I saw the incident as a sign that the Paralympics were finally coming of age as a serious event.
Yesterday, in the most tragic circumstances, I realised Pistorius has a dark side that goes much deeper than a flash of professional passion on the track. And I do feel let down- as a fan who admired him, but also as a disabled person who was proud of another disabled person’s amazing achievements.
Now, the brightest of modern Paralympic stars, who broke down the most difficult of barriers, is in police custody, charged with the most terrible of crimes. Whatever happens in the case, no one, anywhere, will ever look at him in the same way again.