The Sunday Times of South Africa reviewed Oscar Pistorius’ new autobiography, “Blade Runner”, due to be released this week. The Paralympic sprint champion was fitted with prosthetic legs when he was just shy of two years old, but was able to participate in contact sports like cricket and rugby. When he was 16, however, a bad rugby tackle — known as a “hospital pass” — left him with a severe injury, compelling him to spend time away from contact sports. So he took up running.
“When I started [running] for my rugby rehabilitation, I thought, Geez, this is terrible,” Pistorius told the Sunday Times. “Lo and behold, months later I was running at the South African Championships for disabled athletes, and eight months later [in 2004] I was in Athens.”
He took gold in the 200-meter race in Athens, ahead of Marlon Shirley and then world champion Brian Frasure.
According to the review, Pistorius was born in a South African hospital in 1986. He was a healthy baby except for his legs — neither had the fibula bone, and his feet were malformed. His parents gathered information about his condition and learned to answer questions without embarrassment — a habit Pistorius has picked up; if children stare at him in public, he simply explains to them why he “has no legs.”
Pistorius describes his parents as “stubborn people” who decided, after meeting with 11 amputation specialists, to amputate both his legs before he started walking.
Of his first pair of prosthetics, he wrote: “I loved them; from that day on I became invincible, a wild child.”
But prosthetics also landed him in an Amsterdam jail in 2006. The day before traveling, he had been to a shooting range with a friend and ended up with gun residue on his legs — which made airport security suspicious when they scanned him after his prosthetics set off an alarm. He was locked up for several hours in an airport jail.
For running, Pistorius uses hi-tech carbon-fiber prosthetics that earned him the nickname Blade Runner. In 2008, he started a lengthy legal battle with the International Association of Athletics Federations to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes. This was after a series of tests run on behalf of the IAAF were said to show that his carbon-fiber legs would give him an unfair advantage.
He won the matter on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But he failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics by .70 seconds. Nevertheless, he went on to take gold in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter events at last year’s Paralympics in Beijing.
Still, the gold medalist says that he would have to “think carefully” if “God were to ask if I wanted my legs back.” “Had I been born with normal legs, I would not be the man I am today,” he wrote.