TIME South Africa

How Oscar Pistorius Went From Track Star To Accused Murderer

The double-amputee athlete is accused of murdering his girlfriend. Just last year, the paralympian was celebrated as a hero. How did things go so wrong?

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Paraolympian Oscar Pistorius was celebrated as a hero—dubbed “South Africa’s Bladerunner” he became the first double-amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics, in London in 2012. Everything changed though on Valentine’s Day last year when police found his girlfriend’s lifeless body at his house in an upscale gated community in Pretoria, South Africa.

Moments before, Pistorius said, he had pointed his 9 mm pistol toward an upstairs toilet room and fired four bullets through the locked door, fearing that intruders had entered the house.

He has said he fired the shots in order to protect himself and his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. “It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window,” Pistorius said. “As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself.”

But prosecutors are painting a different picture and have charged him with murder. They say the pair had an argument and that Steenkamp locked herself in the bathroom. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Pistorius. Should the athlete be convicted of murder, he would have to serve at least 25 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

How did the high-profile athlete, once lauded for being so talented that he competed not only in the Paralympics but against able-bodied runners in the Olympics, become a defendant accused of murder?

Watch the video above for more.

MORE: TIME’s Oscar Pistorius cover story.

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