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Oscar Pistorius (1986 - )

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Oscar Pistorius (1986 - ) Awarded for:
Inspiring achievements in the field of athletics and contributing to the well-being of people with disabilities in Africa.

Profile of Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius was born on 22 November 1986 to Henke and Sheila Pistorius in Sandton, Johannesburg. Shortly after his birth, it was found that Pistorius was born without the fibula (the outer and narrower of two bones of the lower leg) in both his legs. When no alternative could be found, his devastated parents agreed to have their son's boneless lower limbs amputated.

This 'misfortune' has never deterred Pistorius. Instead, it has equipped him with a determination that knows no limits. He doesn't have a shred of self-pity and he instantaneously rejects any pity displayed towards him. This is because Pistorius does not regard himself otherwise. He is just as able and capable as other 'able-bodied' folk.

At school, Pistorius ardently participated in many sporting activities, including tennis, cricket, water polo and his favourite, rugby. He had prosthetic legs, which enabled him to participate in sports. He later had running prosthetics made for him.

In June 2003, Pistorius seriously injured one of his knees while playing rugby. He was sent to the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria to undergo a rehabilitation programme. He proceeded to train tirelessly towards his recovery, under the watchful eye of coach Ampie Louw. The recovery programme included some athletic activity on the track.

At school, Pistorius was not as enthusiastic about athletics as he was about other sports. While at the rehabilitation centre, he changed his mind about athletics. He started running in January 2004 and by March 2004 was competing in athletics meetings. Within eight months, Pistorius was competing with the best in the world at the Athens Paralympics.

Pistorius's courage, persistence and optimism were illustrated at the Paralympics in the 200 m semi-final. There were two false starts to the race, and during the third attempt, Pistorius was shockingly left behind in his blocks. He watched as the field sped away. Not one to give up, he lifted himself off the blocks and proceeded to rocket past his fellow contenders, winning the race and breaking the record for double amputees. The next day, Pistorius gave another astonishing performance by winning the final and breaking his own record from the previous day, becoming the first amputee to ever run the 200 m in under 22 seconds.

Pistorius's other spectacular feat was at the South African Championships in March 2005, where he claimed sixth position in the 400 m for 'able-bodied' persons.

Pistorius is the world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 m events. He has broken his own world record 19 times, remarkably, within a period of one year.

Pistorius is a commendable humanitarian, who possesses a gift of friendship and brings hope to those in need of it. In June 2006, he was appointed an ambassador of 'Soul of Africa', a Mozambique-based project that focuses on the needs of landmine victims and people with disabilities throughout the continent. The project was launched under the direction of the Mineseeker Foundation, whose patrons include Nelson Mandela and his wife Graça Machel, as well as Sir Richard Branson.

Oscar Pistorius reinforced his reputation as the dominant force in disabled athletics by breaking the world record in the 400 m again in September this year.

He won the Paralympic Athletics World Championships in the Netherlands, dipping below the 50 seconds mark in the T44 category to win gold in 49 minutes and 43 seconds.

Oscar 'Oz' Pistorius possesses an incredible human spirit. He has defied all odds, becoming one of the best athletes the world has seen. His passion, compassion and humility have energised the lives of many and restored faith in their own capabilities. His never-say-die attitude is exemplary for many people with disabilities. He has demonstrated that mental strength can enable humanity to scale intimidating heights of achievement.

Pistorius lives in Pretoria, and is a first-year Business Management student at the University of Pretoria. He is currently training for the eagerly awaited 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.