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Blade Runner faces bleak fifth anniversary of his Olympic tour de force


Five years ago, in London, Oscar Pistorius became the first amputee runner to compete in the able-bodied Olympics. Since then, ignominy has replaced glory for the South African athlete nicknamed the Blade Runner, who will serve the anniversary in prison.

The J-shaped carbon fibre blades he wore when running gave rise to his nickname. The anniversary invites a review of the continuing arguments about whether wearers of high-tech prosthetics have an unfair advantage over able-bodied runners.

Born on 22 Nov, 1986, without the fibula in either leg, Pistorius played rugby and ran using prosthetic legs. He began accumulating Paralympic medals in 2004 and went on to compete against able-bodied runners, most notably in his historic performance at London 2012 when he ran in the men's 400-metre heats and reached the semifinals.

Less than a year later, on Valentine's Day 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door at his home. There then began a legal saga that is still not resolved, despite his conviction for murder and a six-year prison sentence handed down by the High Court on 6 Jul, 2016. The minimum jail term for murder is normally 15 years, but Pistorius's sentence was reduced because of the year he had already spent in prison for manslaughter and mitigating factors, including his disability.

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced it would appeal the "shockingly...lenient" sentence which it said was "disproportionate to the crime of murder committed."

Oscar Pistorius becomes the first amputee runner to compete at the Olympics ( 4 Aug 2016)

Oscar Pistorius Live Runs London Olympics 2012

Oscar Pistorius: Prosecutors to appeal 'shockingly lenient' sentence (The Week 21 Jul 2016)

Bigger, Faster, Stronger: Will Bionic Limbs Put the Olympics to Shame? (Wired 3 Aug 2012)

Oscar Pistorius sentence date set after he walks without prosthetics in court (NBC/AP 15 Jun 16)

Date written/update: 2016-08-10