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Double amputee Oscar Pistorius granted parole in girlfriend’s murder

The sprinter, who won numerous Paralympic gold medals and competed in the 2012 Olympics, shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp in 2013

Oscar Pistorius Photo by: Jim Thurston CC

Ten years after shooting and killing Reeva Steenkamp through a bathroom door in their home, double amputee runner and six-time Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius, 37, of South Africa is to be paroled and will be released from prison on Jan. 5, 2024.

On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Pistorius, known as the “Blade Runner,” fired numerous shots through a bathroom door in his home, killing Steenkamp, who was inside. The South African athletics star consistently denied intending to kill her, saying he shot her by mistake, believing she was an intruder.  

Pistorius was initially convicted of the lesser charge of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years in prison, but after an appeal by prosecutors, he was found guilty of murder in 2016 and the sentence increased by a further six years. In 2017, according to a report in the Globe and Mail, his sentence was more than doubled, after South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal decided it was too lenient. In 2021, it was announced he would soon be eligible for parole, having served half his sentence.

Pistorius competed in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, finishing third overall in the T44 100m and winning gold in the 200m; he went on to compete again in 2008, winning gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m. He wanted to compete against able-bodied runners, but the IAAF (now World Athletics) ruled that runners using carbon-fibre prosethetic “blades” had an unfair advantage and could not race against able-bodied athletes. Pistorius fought this ruling and won, and the rule was revoked, clearing the way for him to try to qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (Further studies have also concluded that prosthetic blades do not confer an advantage over able-bodied runners.)

For various reasons, Pistorius did not compete in the Olympics until 2012 in London, where he became the first amputee runner to compete in an Olympic Games. He reached the semi-finals of the 400m, where he finished eighth, and competed in the 4x400m relay, where the South African squad finished eighth out of nine. Pistorius carried the South African flag in the closing ceremonies.  

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