Known as the ‘Blade Runner’, Oscar first steamed onto the world stage in the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games in Athens claiming his first Paralympic gold medal for the 200m and bronze for the 100m. Oscar went on in the subsequent 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games to win a further three gold medals for the 100m, 200m and 400m, in the T44 category, which he is hoping to defend at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He has set Paralympic records in all three events.
As well as his Paralympic triumphs, Oscar has achieved success in many able-bodied competitions; in Lignano, Italy, he improved his personal best for the 400m to 45:07, achieving the ‘A’ standard qualification which allowed him to take part in the 2011 World Championships. As part of the South Africa World Championship team he competed in the 400m and 4 x 400m relay where the team won a silver medal – making Oscar the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal. If Oscar can replicate his personal best in 2012 it could win him a place at the London 2012 Games, which would make him the first amputee in history to compete in the Olympics.
Alongside his success on the track Oscar has become a household name internationally, becoming the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in 2007 and recently making Time magazine’s Top 100 list of the most influential people, just one place below Oprah Winfrey. More recently he has become involved in modelling and fashion, and picked up GQ’s Best Dressed Man Award in South Africa and was nominated for GQ USA’s Man of The Year 2011.
Oscar has continued to champion sport as a tool for development and has often spoken of the positive effect sport had on his own life growing up in South Africa.
A few words from Oscar
‘You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are enabled by the abilities you have. Competing at the Olympics has become my purpose in life – running has become my calling.’
Oscar’s visit to Tanzania
In November 2011, Oscar travelled to Tanzania for the country’s launch of International Inspiration. As part of his visit, he witnessed the impact that International Inspiration, which uses PE, sport and play to engage young children of all abilities and backgrounds, is already having in Tanzania. He watched sporting demonstrations in athletics and volleyball, which are led by instructors who have benefited from Laureus-supported training programmes. Oscar also played football with young girls who have been enpowered through the programme.
Oscar said: ‘Growing up, sport had a huge impact on my life and has helped me become the person that I am now. Meeting and speaking to some of the young people who are benefiting from the International Inspiration programme here in Tanzania has just reinforced how much of an impact it is having on their lives. It’s fantastic to see that the London 2012 Games are really delivering on their promise to inspire young people around the world to choose sport.’