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Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius granted bail

Oscar Pistorius granted bail


Piece published in the Huffington Post

Listening to the Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair’s ruling was a drawn out process with tweets indicating that Oscar Pistorius could have taken a flight around the world and arrive back in time to hear the verdict.  But after a little under 2 hours, Nair granted Pistorius bail, which was immediately followed by an audible ‘Yes!’ from members of his entourage.

Granting Pistorius bail was no easy verdict to reach and at times it sounded as though Nair would have to just toss a coin, as there seemed compelling gaps in both side of the argument as to what really happened. Why had Reeva Steenkamp locked the door to the bathroom? Why didn’t Oscar Pistorius say anything before taking a shot? How could he have passed by the bed and not noticed she was out of it?

Equally, the lead police officer on the scene was given a telling off for having bungled a number of elements on the scene and for offering inconsistent stories, such as the nature of the steroids found or the distance of the witnesses who heard shouting were from the house.

Just over half way through the lengthy lecture on South African law and its history of granting bail that preceded the ruling, it became clear that the Magistrate considered that the prosecution had done enough to jeopardise the legitimacy of Pistorius’ bail appeal. However, it was the fact that Pistorius was not deemed to be a flight risk that seemed to clinch it for him.

When they started the hearing, I really wasn’t sure what to think still, but as it went through, I found Pistorius’ case increasingly credible and felt myself leaning towards the eventual outcome. There did not seem to be a sufficiently strong enough case against him at this point, even if there were serious peculiarities in his testimony, as reported by the Chief Magistrate.

At best, it looked like this was going to a case of someone behaving terribly wrecklessly, which may be a disposition born out of a life with a disability in a nation with a terrible criminal history and a predilection for gun ownership. These explanations were not given of course, but I expect they will come out in the trial. Chief Magistrate Nair mentioned that Pistorius offered an unusual amount of detail in his testimony for a pre-mediated murder case and that this was to his credit.

It is still hard to believe that Oscar Pistorius could be convicted for pre-mediated murder. All of the testimonies are generous to his personality, which is consistent with the status he has enjoyed over the years. In part, this is why the case is so fascinating, as it threatens to completely destroy our impressions of a person. Such public betrayal is always going to be big news. This is likely to be the trial of the decade.

Oscar Pistorius is more than just a fallen hero

Oscar Pistorius is more than just a fallen hero


This entry was initially published as a blog piece, but later in the Huffington Post

It was only a few days ago that the world of sport was talking about nothing but Lance Armstrong. However, the case surrounding Oscar Pistorius dwarfs any kind of doping scandal, past or present.

A lot has been written about how the tragedy will mean the loss of a hero for the sports world and for people with disabilities. But, Pistorius isn’t just any old sporting hero. He is the most important athlete of the 21st Century and this fallen idol will mean that our social world will suffer a little longer from prejudice than it would otherwise have. Unlike most athlete superstars, Pistorius transcended what happens on the field. Debates about him were of significance for society at large.

His capacity to rival the speeds of so-called able-bodied athletes brought into question the use of that term at all and made us believe that a bionic Games that was faster and better than today’s was just around the corner.

In this world, it would be the technologically modified athlete we celebrate and it would be a world where disability no longer mattered. Everybody could compete on a level playing field and sponsors would fund Paralympic sport as much as Olympic. There may even no longer be a division between the two. There would be only one Olympic Games and only the best athletes competing.

This is now all jeopardized by the fact that Oscar was the only Paralympian campaigning to bridge the two Games. No other athletes have made this case and so the issue may simply disappear from the headlines. The IAAF may have an easier time because of these events and the world of sport may generally breathe a silent sigh of relief that there is nobody else pursuing the same campaign.

Just before the London 2012 Olympics, I wrote an article saying that Pistorius would be the most remembered athlete of the entire Games. I think this is even more likely now, but obviously for very different reasons

This is the second most tragic element of the circumstance, after the loss of a human life. An athlete whose entire future was still yet to be written, but which promises so much, seems like it is now etched in stone.

Unless Pistorius finds a way to redeem himself through the trial, then we may never know how much the world has lost by his absence in public life. It wouldn’t be the first time that a celebrity has later found sympathy from the public and managed to recover their place as a role model.

Oscar Pistorius is so young, with so much still ahead of him -  as an athlete, an advocate, and an ambassador - the entire world will be made worse of by this recent, horrific event, if no recovery is possible.