Oscar's dreams now nightmare
THE figure of Oscar Pistorius racing around the Olympic track with his carbon-fire blades whipping through the air was one of the enduring images of the London Games.
That was only six months ago, when the double-amputee from South Africa emerged as an example of what a person can achieve in the face of adversity.
He didn't win a medal, but the 'Blade Runner' reveled in his Olympic moment and was cheered throughout the world for his achievement.
On Tuesday, still basking in the glow, Pistorius tweeted a photo from London of himself with eventual 400-metre gold medalist Kirani James, who asked for Pistorius' bib as a souvenir after running in the same semi-final heat.
Two days after that tweet, Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend after model Reeva Steenkamp was shot inside his home in South Africa.
The images from last August and Thursday could hardly be more contrasting – a sporting hero at the peak of career and a criminal suspect hiding in his hooded sweatshirt – leaving the world to wonder how Pistorius' life could have come to this.
Pistorius was born without fibula bones due to a congenital defect, and had his legs amputated at 11 months. But his condition never stopped him from playing sports with prosthetics, and he took to rugby. It was after injuring his knee on the pitch that he first took to the track.
The carbon-fibre blades that he uses to run led to years of controversy. By the time he had already won a gold medal at the 2004 Paralympics, Pistorius was banned from competing against able-bodied peers because many argued that his blades gave him an unfair advantage.
In 2008, however, the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared him to compete against the fastest in the world.
It was the Olympics that he wanted, but he failed to run the qualifying time for the 2008 Beijing Games. Instead, he won the 100m, 200m and 400m at the Paralympics in China as he was quickly becoming a star around the world.
In his life off the track, Pistorius called himself a "speed freak". He spoke on several occasions about his love of riding powerful motorcycles, but gave up that hobby in 2009 after he injured his head in a boat accident.
He has also boasted about having cage fighters as friends, and was open about his ownership of guns. He tweeted a photo of himself at a shooting range in November 2011, bragging about his score. Two years after his boating accident, Pistorius finally got to compete on the big stage, running on South Africa's 4x400m relay team at the 2011 world championships. Although he was dropped from the final, he won a silver medal.
By the time the London Olympics came around, Pistorius made the grade, and he could barely believe that he would become the first double amputee to compete on the track at the Olympics.
He ran the first heat of the 400m on August 4 in 45.44 seconds – his fastest time of the season – putting him into the semi-finals. A day later, he finished last in the semi-final heat, crossing the line in 46.54 and failing to move on, but loved it just the same.
"It just felt really magical," Pistorius said that day. "If I could predict what it would feel like or imagine beyond my wildest dreams, this was probably 10 times that."