Feature

The blade runner’s inspiration

Oscar Pistorius credits his mother with his success.

Oscar Pistorius credits his mother with his success, said Alison Kervin in the Financial Times. The South African runner was born without a fibula—the smaller of the two bones between the knee and ankle—in either leg. As a result, he became a double-amputee before he was a year old and now competes in international races using blade-like prosthetic legs. His disability never held him back: He remembers a happy childhood, full of games and sports. “I won a trophy for Greco-Roman wrestling when I was 6,” says the sprinter. “I remember taking up boxing when I was about 9. It felt like nothing was off-limits.” At school, he competed against able-bodied pupils in triathlons, and played tennis and water polo. It was his mother’s love, coupled with her “no-nonsense attitude,” that gave him the confidence to live life to the fullest. He remembers, for instance, her saying to his brother, “Put your shoes on.” Then turning to him, “And you, put your legs on.” She died when he was 15, leaving him devastated. He has the date tattooed on his arm, and says she is still with him, every day, in everything he does. She taught him to believe in himself. “That’s what she gave me,” he says. “That’s a lot to give a child, self-belief.”

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