The sharpest tragedy in the Pistorius scandal is the death of a young, intelligent woman - Reeva Steenkamp. Yet, the whole episode also threatens to strike a dagger into last year's Olympic legacy. For all that Pistorius did to prove the irrelevance of disability; he is now the blade runner that malfunctioned.
I am not one for heroes, and have always vehemently distanced myself from idolising prominent disabled people for the sake of it. Growing up as a wheelchair user in the 1990s, I was the only disabled person at my mainstream school. The reference points for my future were warped. Society dictated I either set diminished ambitions, or looked up to Stephen Hawking - a physically incapacitated, scientific genius.
Neither fitted. As such, Steven Gerrard and Malcolm X became my inspirations - the former for his tenacity and the latter for his struggle to overcome. Disability clung to me, but I had long outgrown its confines. Yet, in this empowerment lay deep visionary isolation.
Then Pistorius emerged, embodying everything I knew to be possible. Muscular like a race horse, he exuded confidence, the trademark sunglasses covering a gaze of steely determination. Every time the South African sprung into a race, his running obliterated boundaries on and off the track. Best of all this desire knew no limits. The first time I saw him was at the London Olympics, racing against able bodied athletes. In doing so, the man made quite clear who was in charge of body and ambition. With or without the blades, he towered 100 foot tall over his disability and demanded others do the same.
Most refreshing and inspiring was the way he transcended those before him to become a mainstream star; standing toe to toe with big name celebrities, both through status and endorsement deals. In a world obsessed with image, he proved disabled people could meet the test: attaining the spacious mansion and fast car, offering sex appeal and, as we now know so well, successfully wooing a beautiful, intelligent model.
These are things that, bluntly, were assumed to lie outside the reach of those with disabilities.
Therefore, upon hearing about the tragic events on 14 February, my overwhelming feeling was a mixture of sadness and frustration. Pistorius had done so much more than cross the finish line to win medals, he was running beyond. Yet, one moment of grave consequence has seen the progress slip through his fingers. It doesn't matter if he fired the fatal bullet or owns the bloodied bat, Pistorius faces death by association; discredited further by reports of steroids found in his home.
My dreams, and those held by thousands of other disabled people, now lie without their brightest symbol.
However, rather than suffocate in dejection, now is the time to realise that it is naive to place faith in heroes. I admired Pistorius not because of what he conveyed to millions, but because he affirmed what I already knew to be true.
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