All it took was a 45 second dash to the finish line and Oscar Pistorius celebrated as an international hero. He was not just an Olympian, he became a shining example of triumph over adversity. Now with charges of murder looming over his head, sponsors and fans are no where to be found.
Born without fibula in both legs, by raw tenacity, the South African native became a successful para Olympian and later, the first double amputee to run in the summer Olympics.
Although he did not win any medals, in a room full of men, he stood tall. Shoulders held high, eyes brimming with pride – a man lauded and adored for his accomplishments on the track. Now, he hangs his head in shame. He is charged with the Valentine’s day killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Eventhough his story weighs heavy with holes, thanks to the aptitude of a well-paid lawyer, he has been granted bail. The very reporters that used to hail him have flown into Pretoria to find out how this hero unraveled so quickly.
Did he have anger management problems (not known), does he have a history of assault (yes), Did he snap in a moment of jealous rage (likely). But due to attitudes towards violence against women in South Africa, Pistorius may walk out a free man. The only guilt party will be people like me who devalue the definition of hero by gratuitously extending it to athletes and entertainments whilst ignoring individuals whose deeds actually advance humanity.
photo credit: Sphiwe Sibeko/Reuters