The athlete had his legs amputated at the knee as an infant, but has become a hero for South Africa due to his ability to overcome obstacles and race in the Olympics. “He was an icon for South Africa,” said Hennie Kotze, one of the coaches who worked with Pistorius at the London Olympics. “It was the way he handled his disability with such character and discipline. It is a big shock for everyone.” Pistorius, 26, won two gold medals and a silver at last year’s Paralympic Games in London, running on carbon-fiber blades and earning the nickname 'Blade Runner.'
Sarit Tomlinson, Steenkamp’s publicist, told Sky News that the couple had a “healthy, fabulous relationship," and as an iconic couple in South African pop culture, no one wants to believe that Pistorius is a murder. Pistorius, also a known gun enthusiast, may have shot her by accident thinking she was an intruder, claim early reports. The Olympian has had false alarms with intruders before, and his model girlfriend could just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. “The best case is that he shot her by mistake,” said Hagen Engler, a journalist and friend of Steenkamp. “And that is a particularly South African mistake, that we are so paranoid you are ready to fire off bullets when you don’t know is coming." Due to the violence that goes on in South Africa, it is not uncommon for households to keep guns.
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