Left feeling betrayed by a phony icon  

What you are about to read is like nothing that ever appeared here. Simply because reason nor drive to write something of this nature never existed. If it comes across as a whinge, apologies. It is, rather, intended as a releasing valve for anger and frustration at somebody being afforded opportunities some of us would’ve given what working limbs we have to attain. Only to see those opportunities, and people as a consequence, treated with vile contempt.

At the outset however, let it be made abundantly clear, I openly acknowledge the severe disability Oscar Pistorious was born with and the horrendous procedures he would have undergone as a young child. I myself underwent massive, life changing surgery, aged four, but nothing on the same scale as Pistorious.

It is beyond question too that even aside from surgery, Pistorious will have – with no little courage and self determination – have gone through arduous torturous times in order to carve as routine (the word ‘normal’ is absolutely detested in these contexts) a lifestyle as was possible for himself.

He abundantly surpassed that. Becoming probably the greatest disabled sportsperson the world has seen. What he achieved – in earning the chance to compete in the Olympic Games themselves and spreading the gospel of Paralympic sport to the masses – was truly inspirational. In a way, it’s also, though – for this corner at least – where the story begins to get tainted.

For a multiplicity of reasons. First off, most people will know how much sport means to me. And the massive, incalculable part it plays in my life. There’s always that pang, though, that the sidelines are as near as will ever really be got to the action. Yet here was a guy who – again let it be said through tremendous effort and courage – achieved things in sport the one working arm would be given for. Only to, in my view, scoff at all that, in an act of cold blooded mindlessness.

It goes deeper than that, though. James McCarthy is one of the strongest, most inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The man who introduced me to rugby is himself a supremely talented sportsman. Excelling at athletics and rowing as well as being part of groundbreaking squads in wheelchair hurling, basketball and rugby. I think and hope he would agree with me, mind you, that his two Paralympic appearances have been, thus far, the pinnacle of his sporting achievements.

It was with immense pride that my brother made the trip and the rest of our family tuned in to see our friend perform with distinction in the Shot Putt during London 2012. It now saddens, nay sickens, me now to think of Pistorious as the poster boy of that momentous, groundbreaking event.

It’s even more galling to think that anybody would even countenance allowing him hold onto the titles he achieved as an athlete. There is nothing more heinous in this world that what Oscar Pistorious did. Therefore, with Lance Armstrong (rightly) having being stripped of his cycling achievements, surely if there’s any right left in the world, Pistorious should also be shorn of his accolades. They may not have been ill-gotten but surely his reputation as a sportsman must now also be sullied. Things cannot, in any way, just carry on as nothing happened.

There’s another angle to this too. The one which, perhaps, did most to prompt the production of this piece. Commenting on certain aspects of what upsets me about my personal circumstances isn’t lightly done. In fact, as has been stated here previously, it’s an area that tends to by shied away from.

So, that I feel driven to right about particular subject matter gives some indication as to the level of what can only be described as hurt that’s felt about a certain aspect of this situation. Reeva Steenkamp was evidently a very beautiful woman. And that’s not just meant in terms of looks.

We’ve all fallen for people whom we considered to be beautiful. Experience has informed, however, that it takes an extra special person to engage with somebody with a disability. I feel genuinely blessed that my life has been touched in indescribable ways by people undoubtedly inspirationally sent my way. The earnest hope is that the people concerned felt the same.

The only regret relating to the situations in question was that fate decreed them unable to go the desired direction. Part of me forever clings to the hope that someday there might be a turn in the road and the hope would be that those who understand, will understand, if that makes sense.

Hunger and indeed longing still remain. Maybe even need. If they ever do not it will assuredly be considered more of a problem than them being there. Hatred is enormously too strong a description to deploy for any situation in life. But, for Pistorious to slay a young woman in the prevailing circumstances prompts such a cocktail of emotions it’s hard to find the right words to convey feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, what was perpetrated was evil, vile and mindless full stop. Hope would be though that there would be some degree of understanding as to why your columnist has been more deeply affected by the whole thing than many may have realised. And I include myself in that. To say that it feels like being left betrayed by a phony icon is but the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe though, to look in the mirror is to reveal that motivation isn’t far away at all.


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