Photo Credit: WALDO SWIEGERS/AFP/Getty Images
Yet another sports-world hero has fallen from grace, and fallen hard. Oscar Pistorius, the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, has been charged with murdering his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Early on Thursday morning, police were alerted to gunshots in the area of Pistorius's home in Pretoria, South Africa. Upon arrival, the police found Steenkamp, 30, being treated by a paramedic for gunshot wounds. When the paramedic pronounced Steenkamp dead, police immediately took Pistorius, 26, into custody.
The police have not commented on a possible motive for the crime. A spokesperson for the authorities did reveal that there were "previous incidents" on file from the athlete's residence, including "allegations of a domestic nature." The police captain, however, said they were unaware of any "prior incidents" between Pistorius and Steenkamp. The department has also stated that there were no signs of forced entry, and a pistol was found at the crime scene.
It's hard to reconcile this terrible story with what we knew of Pistorius. Nicknamed "Blade Runner" for the custom-made artificial legs he wore, the handsome South African sprinter was a six-time gold medalist at the Paralympic Games, and his participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics was seen as a triumph of spirit and determination. (There was even some controversy over whether his artificial limbs gave him an unfair advantage, although he didn't ultimately take home a medal.) He was featured in People's "Sexiest Men Alive" issue, modeled for Thierry Mugler, and has a tattoo of his mother's birthday.
There are many details about this horrifying crime that have yet to be released, and it's possible that Pistorius will profess his innocence (or confess). The whole story just proves, once again, how little we really know about the people we hold up as heroes. Like Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods, it appears that Pistorius's heroic tale was missing a few chapters. But if he's really guilty of murdering his girlfriend, then those missing chapters contain something far, far worse.