February 22, 2013

On The Rebound: Would you have traded places with Pistorius?

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It is impossible for someone with two strong legs and a life fairly devoid of adversity to comprehend the obstacles Oscar Pistorius has overcome. It is equally impossible to comprehend how someone who has reached athletic success at an Olympic level and the fame of having a moniker like “Blade Runner” could have potentially done an act such as Pistorius is accused.

Let’s begin with the background. Pistorius was born without the fibula bones in his lower legs due to a congenital defect. The lower portion of his legs was removed at 11 months. It appears Pistorius led an otherwise normal life in a Christian home, which included participating in sports such as rugby and tennis.  He was 18 before he took up running with great success. Once fitted with blade-like prosthetics, he became known as Blade Runner.

In 2012, Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. He now had money and fame, along with a super model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. There are a lot of people that would have traded their legs for Pistorius’ lot in life.

Now they wouldn’t.

On Valentine’s Day, Steenkamp was shot and killed at Pistorius’ home. There is no question Pistorius held the gun. The debate is whether he acted in rage or as he argues that he mistook her for an intruder. Police had been called to the home previously for incidents of a “domestic nature.” Pistorius is due a fair trial, but the court of public opinion has made their decision. On Feb. 19, as Pistorius gave testimony in the fatal shooting, Steenkamp’s body was being cremated.

People die every day and there are countless acts of violence that cannot be explained. This one I can’t get out of my mind. Why would someone who had overcome so much, allegedly risk a life in prison with an act of violence? Why would a beautiful woman allow herself to remain in an atmosphere or violence and abuse when she had so many other options?

It is cliché that money and fame do not protect you from anger, hate, or other emotions. But surely it could buy you an escape route that the average blue collar worker does not have. It is not like either one could not have picked up the pieces from this relationship and moved on.

Maybe he was just so in love with her? Ridiculous. You do not act with violence toward someone you love. It is only a sign of your weakness or need to show power, and that’s not love.

I wish I did not picture this beautiful young lady cowering in a bathroom pleading for her life. I wish Pistorius could still symbolize that we can overcome any obstacle placed before us. Instead his legacy will be success does not insulate us from basic human emotion.

Even if found not guilty, this is a race he cannot win.