The Blade Runner

At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa made history. He became the first amputee to compete at the Olympics. According to Pistorius, both of his legs were amputated below his knees before he learned to walk. After dominating in the Paralympic Games in Athens and Beijing, Pistorius represented South Africa in the 400-meter race and the 4 x 400 meter relay in the London Games. While he did not medal, Pistorius, or the “Blade Runner,” became a global icon. After the Olympic Games in London, Pistorius became a role model and inspiration for athletes with physical disabilities everywhere.

Pistorius racing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London

Pistorius racing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London

Mike Lavaque-Marty’s Being a Woman and Other Disabilities describes the struggle of woman and the physically disabled to participate in athletics because of stereotypes society has created. Society has developed an attitude that women or the physically disabled are unable to perform at the level of male athletes. Because of these stereotypes, society judges the athletic success of females and the disabled on male athlete performance, downgrading and devaluing the athletic ability of women and the physically disabled athletes. Pistorius broke all the stereotypes and proved society wrong. Pistorius, as a physically disabled runner competing against the fastest runners in the world, showed the world how a physically disadvantaged athlete is capable of athletic success. Pistorius adopted the motto, “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

Unfortunately, on February 14, 2013, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend. Pistorius admitted to shooting her, but he claimed that he thought she was an intruder. Pistorius was charged for culpable homicide, or “unlawful negligent killing of a human being.” He has been sentenced for a maximum of 5 years in jail. Pistorius’ attorneys believe that in 10 months, he should be considered for house arrest.

Pistorius at his trial.

Pistorius and his representatives claim that prisons are not safe for people with physical disabilities. They note that the showers in prison do not have handrails, and Pistorius would be exposed to different diseases. Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, is “not sure” why this was even part of the case. According to The Guardian, Zuma said, “I thought that was an unfortunate debate. You don’t need it, because there are people who are disabled who are in prison. Why is it raised as if he was the first one to be convicted? I thought they were pushing it too far.”

I find it very disappointing how a man less than two years ago was being praised for his athletic achievements as a physically disabled man is now attempting to use his disability to get out of prison. He prided himself on not letting his disability hold him back. Pistorius broke the disability barrier, proving to the world that there isn’t this large gap between female, male and disabled athletes. Now that he faces years in jail, he is reversing his position. For someone who advocated for disabled athletes to compete with everyone else, and not use their disability as an excuse, it is very ironic that he is now using his disability to avoid his punishment.

Pistorius could have been a revolutionary and an icon for generations to come. He provided disabled athletes the inspiration and motivation to break the barrier between male and paraplegic athletics. The stereotypes that Lavaque-Marty pointed out could have been broken. Now, Pistorius is just a hypocritical felon making excuses for himself.

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. ayoublLauren ayoub · October 27, 2014

    This was a very interesting post about the controversies that surround individuals with dissabililities. Do some individuals use their disadvantages to receive special treatment? It is incredible that Pistorius was given the opportunity to participate in the Olympic games. As mentioned, he became a role model for individuals that are physically disabled. However, I must disagree with that the argument that his participation proved the misconception that the physically disabled can not compete at the same level as non physically disabled athletes. I feel that could be an interesting topic but that the emphasis on the fact that he did not place weakens the objective. None the less, the most interesting fact brought up was that Pistorius went against this idea when he said that prisons are not meant for the physically disabled. Going back on his word destroys any notion he once stated that the physically disabled were at an equal advantage to non physically disabled persons. And for what? Special treatment to a punishment he was delivered for committing murder. It unfortunate that an individual in a role model position would so easily change his mind publicly. How can the physically disabled claim they are equal in physical tasks when even one of their main spokesmen disagrees?

    Like

  2. rplamp · October 28, 2014

    I really liked this post because it brought up many good things to think about when it comes to disability and the way it is viewed in modern times. I do agree with the previous post in the fact that just because he competed does not mean that all disabled persons can compete with the non-disabled. There are still boundaries that set apart the abled and the disabled. This being said, I still think that there should be the option to all to compete against each other. If the athletes do not see their disability as a disadvantage then they should be able to compete at whatever level they choose. I do find it very unfortunate that someone who was so vocal about the equality between the two groups of people and then tries to turn his views around and saying that they are indeed not up to the same level as the physically able. I feel like this takes all the good that he did in advancing the equality in sports for the disabled and starts to make it irrelevant. Why would anyone else believe that they can all compete as equals when he no longer even supports it?

    Like

Comments are closed.