THE NEWSDESK: Let a court decide if Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius is still a hero
OSCAR PISTORIUS has always been a ground-breaker.
He was the first amputee athlete to race in both the Paralympics and the Olympics alongside able-bodied athletes.
Few of us will ever forget our first sight of the Blade Runner in full flow - something which changed all our mindsets about the abilities of those who are supposedly called disabled.
No one has done more to advance the cause that those who have lost limbs or who have other difficulties should be viewed in the same light as those who are deemed able-bodied when it comes to competitive sport.
Pistorius and his generation - David Weir, Hannah Cockroft, Jonnie Peacock - have transformed the way we all perceive 'disabled' people. At the end of the London Paralympics, last year there was no cloying "aren't they marvellous?" attitude about those who had come away with gold medals.
He has been living the dream of many an able-bodied sportsmen - lucrative sponsorship deals, worldwide success and a model on his arm.
So there can also be no lionising of Pistorius now that he has been arrested on a charge of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria.
He is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and says he will be denying the charge against him.
Ms Steenkamp's family were among those who spoke of their shock that her "pleasant and charming" boyfriend is facing these allegations.
So were two shop assistants in a Spar in Newport where I bought my lunch on the day news broke.
"Have you seen it in the news? I just can't believe it," said one of the two mature ladies at the till.
A small sentence which says so much. That they knew exactly who he is without any explanation, just as they would David Beckham or Usain Bolt, says he has made Paralympic sport mainstream.
And they would have been no more shocked had Beckham or Bolt been arrested on such serious charges.
I was impressed with the way the arrest was treated on The Last Leg, the comedy show anchored by fellow amputee Adam Hills which rounded off Channel Four's coverage of each night's Paralympic action, and which was so successful it has been brought back by the channel this year as prime time Friday night entertainment.
"We cannot ignore this and this isn't something we can joke about," Hills said, accepting that for many Pistorius has been viewed as a hero.
"If he has done this, he has let us all down," Hills added.
And the show's "Is It OK To Ask...?" slot even took a look at whether Pistorius might have to give up his prosthetics if jailed - Hills pointing out that, in all seriousness, in one penitentiary in the USA, an amputee prisoner's prosthetic leg was confiscated because the warden feared it would be used as a weapon - either by him or against him.
Which all goes to prove one thing. Just because he is an amputee and a celebrity, Pistorius has no more right to people rushing to his side to defend him than anyone else.
And anyone who thinks he should have any kind of special treatment is falling into that same old pity trap.
THE treatment of a bikini-clad photograph of Ms Steenkamp on the front page of The Sun the day after her death provoked a major backlash on social media sites this week.
Then, there was the strange decision to go ahead with the screening of a South African reality TV show episode featuring her within 24 hours of the tragedy.
Somehow, amid all of this furore and plethora of pouting, provocative images, the woman herself seems to have been lost.
Ms Steenkamp, 30, had a law degree. Her website said: "Reeva has a passion for cars and cooking and prefers to read a book on her off days and spend quality time with friends and family."
Her publicist described her as "an absolute angel on earth".
She was a daughter, sister and a friend. She was not just the blonde, attractive girlfriend of a celebrity.