How have the Paralympics been affected by Oscar Pistorius shooting?

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Reeva Steenkamp’s family may have finally obtained closure over her tragic death. The people of South Africa can move on from the daily avalanche of news concerning their fallen idol. Pistorius himself can now start to reflect on himself as he begins his sentence.

But what's next for the Paralympic movement? Can the sport move on and recover from the demise of a man who had done so much to put it where it is today.

After claiming a Gold Medal at the Athens 2004 games at the tender age of 17, Pistorius became a symbol of triumph over adversity. Paralympics was now on the world map. Since then, more and more people became involved with the sport leading to an amazing 4,302 athletes being involved in the London 2012 extravaganza.

New breed must create positive headlines again

The Independent even reported that the ‘Blade Runner’ himself had contributed greatly to increased ticket sales for the event. In spite of this, the tragic recent events have overshadowed the glorious achievements of all Paralympians. The current image for Paralympics may well be this terrible incident. Not, tragically, the glorious events that came before it.

Worse still, the athletes may now find that their lives are scrutinised in a manner way beyond the norm. Rumours and counter-rumours concerning Pistorius’ personal life polarized recent events. Athletes’ activities away from competition may now take precedence over their sporting achievements. What makes matters worse still, this is reinventing the stigma attached to those with disabilities that the Paralympics, and many other such events, had virtually removed.

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Strong stance from the IPC

It must be said though, that credit should be given to the Governing bodies for looking to the future. The International Paralympic Committee have announced that Pistorius will be ineligible to compete for the entirety of his 5 year sentence.

Hopefully, this will never be an issue as a new breed of skilled athletes will no doubt rise in his absence. The IPC have also started the process of maintaining the legacy of the sport. “London 2012 showed that the Paralympian movement is about more than one athlete” was, quite rightly, stated to ESPN. Never were truer words spoken, regardless of how influential this one athlete was.

A case as horrendous as this will no doubt take time for everything and everyone to recover. Make no mistake, the Paralympic movement has been affected by this case. Even so, the glorious achievements of some truly special people have left a lasting impression on the world. They will carry on producing such spectacles because they are truly gifted and exceptional human beings. The actions of nobody will ever change this.

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Oscar Pistorius
Commonwealth Games

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