By Adam Shergold
PUBLISHED: 05:30 EST, 14 February 2013 | UPDATED: 06:07 EST, 14 February 2013
Inspiration: Oscar Pistorius says a silent prayer to his late mother, Sheila, before every race and credits her with encouraging him to take up sports as a child
Oscar Pistorius credits his mother, Sheila, as one of the greatest influences in his life and a driving force behind his success.
She died at the age of 42 - when Oscar was 15 - after suffering an adverse reaction to medication after being wrongly diagnosed with hepatitis.
Sheila and husband Henke made the decision to amputate Oscar's legs when he was just 11 month old, after he was born without a fibula in either limb.
She wrote a letter to her son before the operation with a message he could digest when he was older.
It read: 'The real loser is never the person who crosses the finishing line last. The real loser is the person who sits on the side. The person who does not even try to compete.'
Sheila and Henke were advised to amputate before he was old enough to walk, as this would be less traumatic.
By the age of two, Oscar had his first pair of prosthetic legs fitted and had mastered them within days.
An enthusiastic sportsman, Oscar played water polo and rugby competitively in secondary school. He also played cricket and tennis, took part in triathlons, was an Olympic club wrestler and a keen boxer.
In June 2003, after shattering his knee playing rugby, he was advised by doctors to take up track running to aid his rehabilitation.
Before every race, Oscar says a silent prayer for his mother, who encouraged him to play as many sports as possible.
Winner: When Oscar was amputated at 11 months, his mother Sheila wrote him an inspiring letter saying that the 'real loser' in life was the one who 'does not even try to compete'
Tribute: Pistorius has his mother's date of birth and death tattooed on his right arm
Pistorius and his father Henke in a photograph from 2005
Happy child: A young Oscar Pistorius in the family home
She died on March 6, 2002, a date Pistorius has tattooed on his arm along with her date of birth.
In an interview with Sportsmail before the London Olympics, Pistorius said: 'She was very special to us. She was very cool; a very hectic, free spirit. She didn't really comply with much and had a very carefree approach to life.
'She didn't take anything too seriously. she wrote us hundreds of letters and taught us hundreds of things and never made decisions for us.
'Those are important lessons, when you try to do things sometimes and you don't succeed and you give up, and you never really know what the potential could have been if you had stayed dedicated to something.'
And he paid tribute to her again after becoming the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games at London 2012.
After qualifying for the semi-finals of the 400m, he said: 'I thought about my mother a lot today. She was a bit of a hardcore person. She didn't take no for an answer.
'She always said the loser isn't the person that gets involved and comes last but it's the person that doesn't get involved in the first place.'
Tragedy: Pistorius has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
Headlines Newsview all
Ebola could hit 15 countries across Africa: Study of how disease has spread in past finds 70million people may be at risk of infection
The Ebola outbreak could hit 15 countries across Africa - putting the lives of 70 million people at risk, a groundbreaking study has found. In a ...
Britain is to forge closer economic ties with China after Chancellor George Osborne announced £2.4billion in new commercial deals with the People’s Republic. As the annual ...
Donations have poured in for Manchester Dogs’ Home after a fire ripped through the premises, killing more than 53 dogs last night. A JustGiving page set ...
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Royal baby hoax hospital staff wanted to discipline nurse Jacintha Saldanha
- Trainee teacher hangs himself after split from the girlfriend he couldn’t live without
- Lacey Wildd has had 30 enhancement surgeries and is planning more
Devastated mother tells of anguish at watching teenager drown in lake tragedy not realising it was her own son
A devastated mother has spoken of her anguish at witnessing a teenager drown in a reservoir tragedy, not realising it was her own son. Melanie Goodship, ...
I've had no complaints about my kissing, says Miliband as he admits he FORGOT to mention the deficit in his conference speech
Ed Miliband today insisted said his wife has 'never complained' about his kissing technique after an awkward moment during his party conference speech. The Labour leader ...
Philip Hammond was speaking to CNN at United Nations summit in New York He said the hunt for ISIS executioner with a London accent was moving ...
Man pulled four-door sedan up to security gate without putting it into 'park' Rolled right through gate while man scrambled to catch up with his vehicle Onlookers ...
This wouldn't happen in CSI! Hilarious moment road sweeper ducks underneath police cordon and starts cleaning up a crime scene closed off for forensic investigators
Amused passerby photographs eager road sweeper cleaning crime scene The woman went under a police 'do not cross' cordon to collect the litter But watching police officers ...
This nurse and single mum could be deported to the Philippines because her 9 year old son has AUTISM and will 'be a burden on the health system'
Nurse and son set to be deported from Australia due to the child's autism Maria Sevilla and son Tyrone have lived in Australian since 2007 Their family ...
Rob Greenfield, 28, saw huge amounts of food thrown away on cycling tripDecided to survive by eating only from dumpsters for a monthIs touring the ...
Karen Michelle Williams was last seen in August 1990 Friends last saw her leaving a party in the remote opal mining town of Cooper Pedy in ...
I want some! Sneaky pet pooch watches owner eating watermelon... but looks away each time he's caught staring
Man pretends to eat his food while dog tries to grab a sneaky peek Just before man eats he glances at dog and dog hurriedly turns away Pomeranian ...
Jordanian court ruled there was insufficient evidence against Abu Qatada He was linked with plans to target Israeli and U.S tourists, and diplomats Earlier David Cameron insisted ...