South African athlete Oscar Pistorius (aka the Blade Runner) who made history last year as the first double amputee runner to compete in the Olympics using prosthetic blades, has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend at his house.
Reeva Steenkamp, a 30-year-old model and recent contestant on a South African realty TV show, died after being shot several times in the head and arm in Pistorius’ house in an upscale gated community in Pretoria. Steenkamp, who was active on Twitter posted a message on Wednesday alluding to her excitement about Valentine’s Day, saying: “What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow???
Oscar Pistorius © Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com
South Africans were in shock about the accusation against Pistorius, 26, who became a hero during his long battle for the right to compete in the Olympics. The iconic runner, born without fibulas, had both legs amputated at the knee as an infant. After a controversy on whether the blades he uses to run gave him an advantage in races, Pistorius was granted the right to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Pistorius won two gold medals and a silver at last year’s Paralympic Games in London. In the 2012 Olympics, he reached the 400-meter semifinal and competed in the 4x400 meter relay.
South Africa has a high crime rate, and many homeowners keep weapons for self-defense. With violent crime is an everyday fact of life, the culture of gun ownership is well entrenched.The Afrikaans-language newspaper Beeld suggested that Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for a burglar and killed her accidentally. Whether she was a victim of domestic violence or killed accidentally, the death is senseless and tragic.
An advertisement for Nike, one of Pistorius’ major sponsors, was removed from his official website Thursday. It had shown the athlete in a green lycra athletic suit and the slogan, “I am the bullet in the chamber." After pulling the gun-themed ad, the company issued a statement expressing "sympathy and condolences to the families concerned following this tragic incident."
Pistorius is set to appear before a judge tomorrow.
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