Oscar Pistorius: From Olympic superstar to Pretoria prison

Two years ago, the athlete was celebrated around the world

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The Independent Online

Oscar Pistorius has been handed a five year prison sentence for shooting his girlfriend dead, sealing the former icon’s dramatic fall from grace.

Only two years ago, Pistorius was basking in the glory of his success at the London 2012 games.

In addition to his haul of three medals – two gold and one silver – he had become the first double amputee to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics.

The historic achievement cemented his place as a trailblazer and celebrated ambassador for disability sport.

Accolades had streamed in as fast as the running records Pistorius broke. He appeared on the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people in 2008 and 2012, was named Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and handed an honorary doctorate by the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Oscar Pistorius wins gold at the London Games in 2012

The story of the little boy who had both legs amputated below the knee as a baby and turned his disability into a strength captivated the world.

In South Africa, he became a national icon and when he started dating Reeva Steenkamp, a model and growing celebrity on the verge of her reality television debut, his status was elevated further.

But that all changed on Valentine’s Day 2013, when he shot her dead in his bathroom.

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp became a celebrity couple

Pistorius was arrested by police that night and charged with murder the next day as grisly details of Ms Steenkamp’s death emerged in the South African media.

Hours later, billboards displaying his face were ripped down as advertisers rapidly withdrew endorsement deals and former friends moved to distance themselves from the athlete as quickly as possible.

If the South African media had been accused before of overlooking Pistorius’ faults, the tide was turned as ex-girlfriends and critics took to the airwaves and past incidents were examined in minute detail.

Oscar Pistorius finds himself the centre of attention in London in August 2012

There was his tantrum at the London Paralympics 200m race, when he accused a Brazilian athlete of beating him into second place with illegal blades. No rules had been violated.

Past reports of a gun by his bedside and the rifle by a window seen by journalists surfaced and there was the tweet describing how he walked into his house, thought there was a burglar and went into “recon mode”.

Evidence presented during his trial revealed the extent of his fascination with guns, including footage from a firing range showing him excitedly exploding watermelons with a “zombie stopper”.

He was given three-year prison sentence, suspended for five years, for firing a gun in a crowded Johannesburg restaurant in 2013 as he passed in under the table.

Gradually, the image of a heroic and congenial sportsman who had battled against adversity to blaze a trail for disabled athletes around the world, was replaced with that of a gun-toting playboy with a huge ego and temper to match.

If his legal team are correct, Pistorius could be out of prison in just 10 months but the world is unlikely to forgive or forget his crime.