Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fallen hero

So another sporting hero bites the dust of their own celebrity as the world comes to know the other side; the darker side of their personality.

The latest hero in the frame is Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympian known as “Blade Runner” for his vast sporting achievements, despite being a double amputee. He’s now imprisoned, following the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a part-time model and law graduate.

Supporters of Pistorius believe this was a tragic accident but, there’s little doubt, that it was the famed Olympian that pulled the trigger. Apparently, Pistorius sobbed in court and no one knows if he’s heart broken over the death of this girlfriend or his blemished character.

I lean towards the latter. Oscar would most certainly have had an enlarged ego following the overcoming of his disability and his admirable sporting achievements that have rivaled and surpassed many an able-bodied athlete. It comes with the territory; he wanted to be a champion in sport and life and the spotlight of fame followed him.

Pistorius may have super human sporting prowess but he is very much human. Part of being human is having fears and insecurities and Pistorius had concerns for his safety. South Africa is a dangerous country, where the rich/poor divide is great and where social justice came at the price of bloodshed. Pistorius grew up against the back-drop of apartheid; which would not have touched his family since they were white. However, since the release of Nelson Mandela in 1992 and the vision of former President De Klerk, a new South Africa was to be born.

It wasn’t an easy birth and, though segregation is no more, South Africa is far from equal. The whites live in their high security gated communities and the blacks continue in the townships. Relations are strained; crime and corruption are rife. That is the backdrop of the South Africa that Oscar Pistorius grew up in and like any self-respecting South African he learned how to handle a gun.

Guns and insecure individuals rarely make good bedfellows. Perhaps no one told Pistorius that guns don’t keep you warm at night. Nevertheless, he did keep one at his bedside.  Upon waking and finding his girlfriend absent from his bed he grabbed his gun. Hearing noises in the bathroom, he didn’t ask any questions but fired a few shots through the door. When he entered he found his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, dead.
Was this action pre-meditated? I don’t believe so but men and guns are not to be trusted. Reeva Steenkamp would never have believed that she would die at the hands of a man who cared for her….but she did.

Pistorius is facing a murder charge. He’s known to be a little trigger happy and obsessive about his personal safety. It’s a double edged sword and now someone’s dead.
This incident is all the more disturbing as one of the parents’ of an ex-girlfriend is quoted as saying: “Thank God, my daughter is out of that man’s clutches.”

What kind of man was Pistorius? Certainly a determined and high-achieving one. It’s interesting that nearly all of his girlfriends were blonde bombshells. Naturally they would have attracted a lot of male attention and who knows what happened in the hours preceding Ms Steenkamp’s death. Perhaps he had become jealous of a previous partner and they had had an argument? Pistorius is after all a man and men often harbor uncontrollable fury in their private, weaker moments.
o doubt, he’ll have plenty of time in custody or on bail to come up with a version of events that may convince a jury of his innocence. Meanwhile, Ms Steenkamp’s family can only ponder about the fateful meeting that their daughter had with a sporting giant of South Africa and it’s dire consequences.

A hero is human and failure is part of life’s journey.  He cannot succeed in all things. Bad decisions and irrational behavior have penalties. This time Pistorius has fallen from grace and it’ll be a while before his blades are slicing up the track. Money and fame are not enough to save him this time but truth might yet win the day.



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