By Andrew Moffa
Every four years, the Summer Olympics take center stage. For two weeks, athletes from all over the world put on inspiring performances and make their dreams come true, while millions of people watch from morning until night.
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London fit this description perfectly, as the many storylines ranged from Michael Phelps ending a legendary career to Missy Franklin making quite a splash in her first ever Olympics to the Fierce Five United States Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team winning the team gold medal.
Even with all of these amazing storylines, the one that stood out above all of these was South African runner Oscar Pistorius, also known as the “Blade Runner.”
Pistorius, a double-amputee who runs on two prosthetic legs, qualified for the 2012 London Games in both the 400-meter dash and the 4×400 relay for the South African team.
Although Pistorius was not able to qualify for the final in the men’s 400-meters, the fact that he raced able-bodied athletes was very inspiring and a true testament to the value of hard work and dedication.
Pistorius became a household name after the Olympic Games, and many people would label him as the most inspiring athlete in the world.
Early in the morning on Feb. 14, 2013, Valentine’s Day, Pistorius’ girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, was shot and killed at the home of Pistorius in the suburbs of Pretoria, South Africa.
He resides in a gated community within the nation’s capital. Pistorius has been charged with the murder, which has sent shockwaves around the world.
Police have said that Steenkamp, a model who has continuously spoken out against rape and abuse against women, was shot four times. A 9 mm pistol was found inside Pistorius’ villa.
While this may have come to a surprise to many people, the police have said that they have received calls in the past about domestic altercations at the house of 26-year-old Pistorius.
Pistorius has been very outspoken about his love for firearms, which adds an interesting twist to the story.
Brigadier Denise Beukes, a spokeswoman for the South African police, has stated that “there is no other suspect involved.” Police arrived at the scene at 3 a.m. and tried to revive Steenkamp, but were unsuccessful in doing so.
Pistorius was taken to a hospital by officials in order to enable doctors to collect DNA samples and test his blood-alcohol level.
As sad as this instance is, domestic violence, and gun violence in general, is not unusual in the South Africa.
With a population of 50 million people, South Africa bears witness to 50 citizens being killed each day, one of the highest murder rates in the world.
South Africa’s rate of shooting deaths is second worldwide to Colombia.
On Friday, Feb. 15, Pistorius, along with members of his family, appeared in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court in front of Chief Magistrate Desmond Nasir.
About 100 spectators filled the courtroom and were witnesses, looking on as the prosecutors announced that they will pursue a charge of premeditated murder against Pistorius.
The sad reality of this announcement is that the man who inspired the world with his performance in London this past summer could now spend the rest of his life in prison.
The lasting image of Pistorius in court on Friday was one of him in tears as the announcement was being made by the prosecution.
Some other important news relevant to this incident includes the fact that the police say an autopsy was performed on the body of Steenkamp by investigators, but Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale confirmed that the results of this autopsy would not be published to the general public.
On Tuesday, Pistorius appeared in front of a packed courtroom and was charged with premeditated murder.
According to Pistorius, he shot his girlfriend by accident, thinking she was a robber.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court that Pistorius fired into the small door of a bathroom where Steenkamp was finding solace after a shouting match with the Olympian.
He allegedly fired four shots, and three of them hit Steenkamp. It has also been confirmed that Pistorius has lost several expensive sponsorships that are estimated to be worth more than $1 million a year.
Another interesting note revolves around the seeming confusion as to the age of Steenkamp, the girlfriend of Pistorius.
The common knowledge seems to be that the South African model is 29 years old, but the police have said that she was 30. This confusion and discrepancy has yet to be explained, and adds a bit of a twist to this ongoing drama.
As of Sunday, a request from the defense sparked the chief magistrate’s decision to delay Pistorius’ bail hearing until Tuesday and Wednesday.
Furthermore, the defense lawyers, along with the prosecutors, have come up with a compromise that will put Pistorius in a police holding cell, not prison, which is normally the case.
This seems to be an example of a high-profile athlete getting preferential treatment, but Nasir has given his blessing to this promise. Additionally, the police have also issued a statement saying that they strongly oppose Pistorius being freed on bail.
Because the prosecution made the announcement that Pistorius has been charged with premeditated murder, it would seem as though these lawyers contain evidence of the Olympian planning the murder of Steenkamp.
While this charge would result in Pistorius spending the rest of his life in prison if he is found guilty, the charge could also make it more difficult to get a conviction. The main reason for this is that this murder occurred at a place where there were no witnesses.
Furthermore, members of Pistorius’ family have adamantly denied the fact that he murdered Steenkamp and will dispute the charge.
No matter how this ordeal ends, the sad reality of this entire story is that another seemingly great athletic role model does not turn out to be the person the worldwide community thinks he is.
Pistorius, the “Blade Runner” was one of the most high-profile and inspiring athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. Now, he is back in the news for all of the wrong reasons.
It is time to find yet another positive role model in professional sports.
The Olympics always serve as a great time to find these people who go about things the right way, and the positive side to this is that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are less than a year away.