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Fall from grace

Last week’s date of February 14 will remain with me for as long as I live.

Not because the world was busy celebrating Valentine’s Day or neither was it because the day precedes my husband’s birthday.

I was going about my day, busy as usual, when I heard that Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend. Now while some may not know the name or at least heard it but never really paid it any mind, the “Blade Runner” as he is affectionately called, is one of South Africa’s biggest and brightest stars, a pioneer in athletics and a champion for the disabled.

That news hit me hard. He is definitely one of my favourite athletes as I have read his struggles, followed his career for the past two to three years and watch him create history last year at the Olympics by becoming the first double-amputee sprinter to compete in the Games.

With all the medals he’s accumulated and all the accolades that have been bestowed upon him, these recent developments have sent everything crashing down.

There are so many things that are coming to light and none of them are the least bit comforting, to say the least. Oscar said that the entire event was a horrible accident. He thought she was a burglar and started shooting.

More recent news coming to light said that a bat was involved, it had blood on it and there was a possibility that it was used to attack his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before she was shot; which means that the argument that the act was premeditated will definitely be a strong one.

Pistorius’ best friend said that he received a call from him just minutes after the incident occurred and said that Oscar was sobbing uncontrollably.

He said: “Oscar called me at 3:55 a.m. saying that Reeva had been shot. I said to him: ‘What are you talking about? I don’t understand you.’ He then repeated himself – ‘There has been a terrible accident, I shot Reeva,”

He also called his dad and his sister to come quickly to his home and when they arrived, he was carrying his girlfriend’s body down the stairs with her head and arms dangling.

The police arrived on the scene and carried Pistorius away where they then ran into another problem. After he was charged and they realised that there was no jail cell which could accommodate a disabled person, they then had to search for one and ended up placing him in a cell in another police station which while not disabled friendly, was the best of them all.

Placed in a cell by himself, it was thought that this was best for his own safety and protection not only from other inmates but in light of the fact that mobility was an issue because of his disability.

During his appearance in court all Oscar did was sob; and he really does have many reasons to cry. He is South African’s golden boy and his image is forever tarnished. Guilty or innocent his career is over. Fans all over the world are either disappointed or crying shame and whether deliberate or otherwise he shot and killed a woman who many said he was to marry.

Unfortunately for him it has also emerged that there were previous allegations of domestic disputes at his home and that he spent a night in jail in 2009 after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a party.

As I sat and thought about all of this I had to wonder if we pressure celebrities into forming a false image of themselves, leaving them feeling alone and hopeless when they are faced with a real life crisis. Who do they turn to? Everybody thinks they’re perfect and enjoying their celebrity status.

What if Oscar had a problem with domestic abuse or some other “demon” which he was trying so desperately to get rid of? We may never know. All we know is that a beautiful girl on the brink of an exciting career had her life taken away from her.

Whatever the outcome of all of this, Oscar Pistorius’s life will never be the same. All over South Africa billboards with his likeness are being removed and the man who Time Magazine named last year as one of the world’s 100 most influential people and who many dubbed as a hero, is now huddled in a jail cell under suicide watch as he awaits his time to stand trial where he faces a possible life sentence.

However you spin it, this is one story where the hero turns out to be the loser in the end.

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