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The Fastest Man On No Legs

The story of double amputee Oscar Pistorius who, with the help of state-of-the-art artificial legs, has become one of the fastest runners in the world. Oscar Pistorius is a South African sprint runner. Although both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old, he competes in events for single below-knee amputees and for able-bodied athletes.

At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metres and 4 × 400 metres relay races. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Pistorius won gold medals in the men’s 400 metre race and in the 4 × 100 metres relay, setting world records in both events. He also took a silver in the 200 metres race, having set a world record in the semifinal.

On 14 February 2013, Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, whom he had fatally shot at his home in the early hours of that morning. He was granted bail on 22 February 2013 and at a subsequent hearing on 19 August 2013 dates were set for a trial from 3 to 20 March 2014.

In the early morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, Pistorius’ girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed by Pistorius at his Pretoria home. Pistorius was taken into police custody and was formally charged with Steenkamp’s murder in a Pretoria court on 15 February.

The bail hearing commenced on 19 February under Chief Magistrate of Pretoria Desmond Nair. During the hearing, both prosecution and defence said that Pistorius had fired four shots through a locked bathroom door, hitting Steenkamp three times inside the bathroom. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel claimed that Pistorius had put on his prosthetic legs, walked across his bedroom to the bathroom, and intentionally shot Steenkamp through the door. Nel argued that the time required for this process was sufficient to establish the murder as premeditated.

Pistorius said that he had thought Steenkamp was in the bed, and that the person in the bathroom was an intruder. He also said he had not put on his prosthetics before shooting into the bathroom.

Chief investigating officer Hilton Botha said at the bail hearing that a witness had heard gunshots coming from Pistorius’ home and then a female screaming followed by more gunshots; he initially said the witness was 600 metres away, but later said the distance was 300 metres. Botha also said the trajectory of the gunshots indicated that they had been fired downward and directly toward the toilet, seemingly conflicting with Pistorius’ statement that he was not wearing his prosthetics at the time.

He acknowledged that procedural mistakes had been made during the crime scene investigation and that police had found no evidence inconsistent with the version of events presented by Pistorius, adding later that equally nothing contradicted the police version either.

On 22 February, Botha was removed from the case following revelations that he was facing attempted murder charges stemming from a 2009 incident. Botha was replaced by Vineshkumar Moonoo, described as "the most senior detective" in the South African Police Service.

On the first day of the bail hearing, Magistrate Nair ruled that for the purposes of the bail hearing Pistorius was charged with a Schedule 6 criminal offence, which relates to serious crimes including premeditated murder and requires exceptional circumstances for release on bail.

On 22 February, at the conclusion of the four-day bail hearing, Magistrate Nair said that the state had not convinced him that Pistorius posed a flight risk and fixed bail at R1 million ($US113,000). On 4 June the court case was postponed to allow time for further investigation until a hearing at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on 19 August, when Pistorius was formally indicted on two charges of murder and the illegal possession of ammunition.

The indictment noted that even if Pistorius was mistaken in the identity of the person he shot, the intention was to kill. Dates for a trial to be held at the Gauteng Division of the High Court were set from 3 to 20 March 2014. During the murder trial, Pistorius will also face two additional charges of firing a gun in a public space.

In late June 2013, Pistorius returned to training, reportedly looking much thinner and wearing a beard. His agent said that it was a very emotional experience for Pistorius and that returning had been a "bittersweet" moment for him.

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