Category Archives: Handicapped

Hugh Herr: The Bionic Man


Myself 

 

 

BT.V. Antony Raj

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Dr. Hugh Herr Phot by Claudia Dreifus( Source: nytimes.com) (Custom)
Dr. Hugh Herr Phot by Claudia Dreifus( Source: nytimes.com) (Custom)

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Hugh Herr, an American, born October 25, 1964, a double amputee is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr is a rock climber, engineer, and biophysicist.

Herr grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and his only dream was becoming a mountaineer. By the time he was 8, being a prodigy rock climber, he scaled the face of the 11,627-foot (3,544 m) Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies.

In January 1982, the 17-year-old Hugh Herr, acknowledged as one of the best climbers in the United States, and a fellow climber 20-year-old Jeff Batzer ascended a difficult technical ice route in Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. They were caught in a blizzard. Disoriented, they wandered through the frozen wilderness. Eventually, they descended into the Great Gulf and spent three nights in −20 °F (−29 °C) degree temperatures. When rescued, both the climbers had suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia. During the rescue attempt, an avalanche killed a volunteer named Albert Dow.

Months of surgeries followed. Unfortunately, both legs of Hugh Herr were amputated below the knee. His companion, Jeff Batzer lost his lower left leg, all the toes on his right foot, and the fingers of his right hand. He did not climb again. He joined the clergy and is now the director of pastoral care at the Lancaster Evangelical Free Church.

After the amputation and rehabilitation, Hugh Herr focused on academics. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics at the Millersville University, and then a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, followed by a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University.

Soon, an undaunted Hugh Herr using specialized prostheses that he himself designed, was climbing once again, a feat his doctors told him was unthinkable.

Hugh Herr climbing High Exposure in Mohonk Preserve an hour south of Albany on the cliffs called The Gunks. (Source: jothyrosenberg.com)
Hugh Herr climbing High Exposure in Mohonk Preserve an hour south of Albany on the cliffs called The Gunks. (Source: jothyrosenberg.com)

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Hugh Herr designed and created prosthetic feet with high toe stiffness that made it possible for him to stand on small rock edges the width of a coin. He designed titanium-spiked feet to assist him in ascending steep ice walls. He used the prostheses to alter his height that could range from five to eight feet, to avoid awkward body positions and to grab hand and footholds that were previously out of reach. He created robotic powered ankles because that was the only way for smooth walking.

Using the prostheses, Herr climbed rock cliffs at a more advanced level than he had before the amputation. He became the first person with a major amputation to perform in a sport on par with able-bodied sportsmen.

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At present, Hugh Herr is an associate professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. As the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, Herr focuses on the designing of the next generation of bionic limbs and robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. He is developing wearable robotic systems that serve to augment the human physical capability. He is rewriting the laws of physiology by redefining what it means to be human.

TED is a nonprofit group devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today it covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.

In the following video, Dr. Hugh Herr shows his incredible technology in a talk that is both technically and deeply personal. He demonstrates the Biometric technology developed by the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group with the help of the ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.

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Here is the transcript of the above video:

0:12
Looking deeply inside nature through the magnifying glass of science, designers extract principles, processes and materials that are forming the very basis of design methodology, from synthetic constructs that resemble biological materials to computational methods that emulate neural processes, nature is driving design. Design is also driving nature. In realms of genetics, regenerative medicine and synthetic biology, designers are growing novel  technologies not foreseen or anticipated by nature.

0:51
Bionics explores the interplay between biology and design. As you can see, my legs are bionic. Today I will tell human stories of bionic integration, how electromechanics attached to the body and implanted inside the body are beginning to bridge the gap between disability and ability, between human limitation and human potential.

1:23
Bionics has defined my physicality. In 1982, both of my legs were amputated due to tissue damage from frostbite incurred during a mountain climbing accident. At that time, I didn’t view my body as broken. I reasoned that a human being can never be broken. Technology is broken. Technology is inadequate. This simple but powerful idea was a call to arms to advance technology for the elimination of my own disability and ultimately the disability of others. I began by developing specialized limbs that allowed me to return to the vertical world of rock and ice climbing. I quickly realized that the artificial part of my body is malleable, able to take on any form, any function, a blank slate through which to create perhaps structures that could extend beyond biological capability. I made my height adjustable. I could be as short as five feet or as tall as I’d like. (Laughter) So when I was feeling badly about myself, insecure, I would jack my height up, but when I was feeling confident and suave, I would knock my height down a notch just to give the competition a chance. (Laughter) (Applause) Narrow, wedged feet allowed me to climb steep rock fissures where the human foot cannot penetrate, and spiked feet enabled me to climb vertical ice walls without ever experiencing muscle leg fatigue. Through technological innovation, I returned to my sport stronger and better. Technology had eliminated my disability and allowed me a new climbing prowess. As a young man, I imagined a future world where technology so advanced could rid the world of disability, a world in which neural implants would allow the visually impaired to see, a world in which the paralyzed could walk via body exoskeletons.

3:31
Sadly, because of deficiencies in technology, disability is rampant in the world. This gentleman is missing three limbs. As a testimony to current technology, he is out of the wheelchair, but we need to do a better job in bionics to allow one day full rehabilitation for a person with this level of injury. At the MIT Media Lab, we’ve established the Center for Extreme Bionics. The mission of the center is to put forth fundamental science and technological capability that will allow the biomechatronic and regenerative repair of humans across a broad range of brain and body disabilities.

4:12
Today, I’m going to tell you how my legs function, how they work, as a case in point for this center. Now, I made sure to shave my legs last night, because I knew I’d be showing them off.

4:25
Bionics entails the engineering of extreme interfaces. There’s three extreme interfaces in my bionic limbs: mechanical, how my limbs are attached to my biological body; dynamic, how they move like flesh and bone; and electrical, how they communicate with my nervous system.

4:41
I’ll begin with mechanical interface. In the area of design, we still do not understand how to attach devices to the body mechanically. It’s
extraordinary to me that in this day and age, one of the most mature, oldest technologies in the human timeline, the shoe, still gives us blisters. How can this be? We have no idea how to attach things to our bodies. This is the beautifully lyrical design work of Professor Neri Oxman at the MIT Media Lab, showing spatially varying exoskeletal impedances, shown here by color variation in this 3D-printed model. Imagine a future where clothing is stiff and soft where you need it, when you need it, for optimal support and flexibility, without ever causing discomfort.

5:30
My bionic limbs are attached to my biological body via synthetic skins with stiffness variations that mirror my underlying tissue biomechanics. To achieve that mirroring, we first developed a mathematical model of my biological limb. To that end, we used imaging tools such as MRI to look inside my body to figure out the geometries and locations of various tissues. We also took robotic tools. Here’s a 14-actuator circle that goes around the biological limb. The actuators come in, find the surface of the limb, measure its unloaded shape, and then they push on the tissues to measure tissue
compliances at each anatomical point. We combine these imaging and robotic data to build a mathematical description of my biological limb, shown on the left. You see a bunch of points, or nodes. At each node, there’s a color that represents tissue compliance. We then do a mathematical transformation to the design of the synthetic skin shown on the right, and we’ve discovered optimality is where the body is stiff, the synthetic skin should be soft, where the body is soft, the synthetic skin is stiff, and this mirroring occurs across all tissue compliances. With this framework, we produced bionic limbs that are the most comfortable limbs I’ve ever worn. Clearly in the future, our clothing, our shoes, our braces, our prostheses, will no longer be designed and manufactured using artisan strategies, but rather data-driven quantitative frameworks. In that future, our shoes will no longer give us blisters.

7:07
We’re also embedding sensing and smart materials into the synthetic skins. This is a material developed by SRI International, California. Under electrostatic effect, it changes stiffness. So under zero voltage, the material is compliant. It’s floppy like paper. Then the button’s pushed, a voltage is applied, and it becomes stiff as a board. We embed this material into the synthetic skin that attaches my bionic limb to my biological body. When I walk here, it’s no voltage. My interface is soft and compliant. The button’s pushed, voltage is applied, and it stiffens, offering me a greater maneuverability of the bionic limb.

7:49
We’re also building exoskeletons. This exoskeleton becomes stiff and soft in just the right areas of the running cycle to protect the biological joints from high impacts and degradation. In the future, we’ll all be wearing exoskeletons in common activities such as running.

8:07
Next, dynamic interface. How do my bionic limbs move like flesh and bone? At my MIT lab, we study how humans with normal physiologies stand, walk and run. What are the muscles doing, and how are they controlled by the spinal cord? This basic science motivates what we build. We’re building bionic ankles, knees and hips. We’re building body parts from the ground up. The bionic limbs that I’m wearing are called BiOMs. They’ve been fitted to nearly 1,000 patients, 400 of which have been U.S. wounded soldiers.

8:40
How does it work? At heel strike, under computer control, the system controls stiffness to attenuate the shock of the limb hitting the ground. Then at mid-stance, the bionic limb outputs high torques and powers to lift the person into the walking stride, comparable to how muscles work in the calf region. This bionic propulsion is very important clinically to patients. So, on the left you see the bionic device worn by a lady — on the right a passive device worn by the same lady that fails to emulate normal muscle function — enabling her to do something everyone should be able to do, go up and down their steps at home. Bionics also allows for extraordinary athletic feats. Here’s a gentleman running up a rocky pathway. This is Steve Martin, not the comedian, who lost his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

9:33
We’re also building exoskeletal structures using these same principles that wrap around a biological limb. This gentleman does not have any leg condition, any disability. He has a normal physiology, so these exoskeletons are applying muscle-like torques and powers so that his own muscles need not apply those torques and powers. This is the first exoskeleton in history that actually augments human walking. It significantly reduces metabolic cost. It’s so profound in its augmentation that when a normal, healthy person wears the device for 40 minutes and then takes it off, their own biological legs feel ridiculously heavy and awkward. We’re beginning the age in which machines attached to our bodies will make us stronger and faster and more efficient.

10:26
Moving on to electrical interface, how do my bionic limbs communicate with my nervous system? Across my residual limb are electrodes that measure the electrical pulse of my muscles. That’s communicated to the bionic limb, so when I think about moving my phantom limb, the robot tracks those movement desires. This diagram shows fundamentally how the bionic limb is controlled, so we model the missing biological limb, and we’ve discovered what reflexes occurred, how the reflexes of the spinal cord are controlling the muscles, and that capability is embedded in the chips of the bionic limb. What we’ve done, then, is we modulate the sensitivity of the reflex, the modeled spinal reflex, with the neural signal, so when I relax my muscles in my residual limb, I get very little torque and power, but the more I fire my muscles, the more torque I get, and I can even run. And that was the first demonstration of a running gait under neural command. Feels great. (Applause)

11:34
We want to go a step further. We want to actually close the loop between the human and the bionic external limb. We’re doing experiments where we’re growing nerves, transected nerves, through channels or microchannel arrays. On the other side of the channel, the nerve then attaches to cells, skin cells and muscle cells. In the motor channels, we can sense how the person wishes to move. That can be sent out wirelessly to the bionic limb, then sensors on the bionic limb can be converted to stimulations in adjacent channels, sensory channels. So, when this is fully developed and for human use, persons like myself will not only have synthetic limbs that move like flesh and bone, but actually feel like flesh and bone.

12:24
This video shows Lisa Mallette shortly after being fitted with two bionic limbs. Indeed, bionics is making a profound difference in people’s lives.

12:34
(Video) Lisa Mallette: Oh my God. Oh my God, I can’t believe it. It’s just like I’ve got a real leg. Now, don’t start running.

12:49
Man: Now turn around, and do the same thing walking up. Walk up, get on your heel to toe, like you would normally just walk on level ground. Try to walk right up the hill. LM: Oh my God. Man: Is it pushing you up? LM: Yes! I’m not even — I can’t even describe it. Man: It’s pushing you right up.

13:11
Hugh Herr: Next week, I’m visiting the center’s —

13:14
(Applause) Thank you, thank you.

13:18
Thank you. Next week I’m visiting the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and I’m going to try to convince CMS to grant appropriate code language and pricing so this technology can be made available to the patients that need it.

13:33
Thank you. (Applause)

13:38
It’s not well appreciated, but over half of the world’s population suffers from some form of cognitive, emotional, sensory or motor condition, and because of poor technology, too often, conditions result in disability and a poorer quality of life. Basic levels of physiological function should be a part of our human rights. Every person should have the right to live life without disability if they so choose — the right to live life without severe depression; the right to see a loved one in the case of seeing impaired; or the right to walk or to dance, in the case of limb paralysis or limb amputation. As a society, we can achieve these human rights if we accept the proposition that humans are not disabled. A person can never be broken. Our built environment, our technologies, are broken and disabled. We the people need not accept our limitations, but can transcend disability through technological innovation. Indeed, through fundamental advances in bionics in this century, we will set the technological foundation for an enhanced human experience, and we will end disability.

14:52
I’d like to finish up with one more story, a beautiful story, the story of Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Adrianne lost her left leg in the Boston terrorist attack. I met Adrianne when this photo was taken at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Adrianne is a dancer, a ballroom dancer.

15:10
Adrianne breathes and lives dance. It is her expression. It is her art form. Naturally, when she lost her limb in the Boston terrorist attack, she wanted to return to the dance floor.

15:22
After meeting her and driving home in my car, I thought, I’m an MIT professor. I have resources. Let’s build her a bionic limb to enable her to go back to her life of dance. I brought in MIT scientists with expertise in prosthetics, robotics, machine learning and biomechanics, and over a 200-day research period, we studied dance. We brought in dancers with biological limbs, and we studied how do they move, what forces do they apply on the dance floor, and we took those data and we put forth fundamental principles of dance, reflexive dance capability, and we embedded that intelligence into the bionic limb. Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster. Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics.

16:13
It was 3.5 seconds between the bomb blasts in the Boston terrorist attack. In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor. In 200 days, we put her back. We will not be intimidated, brought down, diminished, conquered or stopped by acts of violence. (Applause)

16:43
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Adrianne Haslet-Davis, her first performance since the attack. She’s dancing with Christian Lightner. (Applause)

17:04
(Music: “Ring My Bell” performed by Enrique Iglesias)
(Applause)

18:21
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the research team, Elliott Rouse and Nathan Villagaray-Carski. Elliott and Nathan.
(Applause)

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Reeva Steenkamp, the Model Killed by Oscar Pistorius


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius. (Photograph: Frennie Shivambu/EPA)
Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius. (Photograph: Frennie Shivambu/EPA)

The 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp, the glamorous South African model shot dead by her lover, the 27-year-old Oscar Pistorius was a fervent tweeter. She regularly tweeted about the “amazing” Pistorius, the globally admired double-amputee, who competed against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 Olympics in London.

One of the last tweets Reeva made had a tinge of romance:

What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay“.

A few hours later on February 14, 2013, just before dawn broke, Reeva was lying dead in the bathroom of the celebrated athlete’s home in Pretoria. Reeva was killed when Oscar Pistorius fired four times through a locked toilet door in his house. Oscar claimed he thought she was an intruder.

Reeva Steenkamp
Reeva Steenkamp

Born on August 19, 1983, in Cape Town, Reeva Steenkamp spent her early years on a farm near the city. Her father was a racehorse trainer.

Later on, when her family moved south to Port Elizabeth, Reeva attended a Catholic school.

As her parents did not have the means to pay the fees for her college, her studies at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University were covered by fellowships. Reeva graduated with a degree in law and dreamt of setting up a shelter for abused women.

June and Barry Steenkamp, parents of  Reeva Steenkamp, on the beach at Maitland near Port Elizabeth
June and Barry Steenkamp, parents of Reeva Steenkamp, on the beach at Maitland near Port Elizabeth

Later, after her death Reeva’s parents said:

“Reeva, who held such a passion for women’s abuse issues and frequently spoke out against domestic violence, intended to one day open an establishment where abused women would be cared for.”

Reeva moved to Johannesburg after her graduation to pursue a career in modelling. She modelled in commercials for the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota, Italian fashion brand Zui and for the online jewelry retailer Sivana Diamonds. She was chosen to be the face of Avo Cosmetics. She also worked as a presenter for Fashion TV South Africa.

In 2011 and 2012, the FHM magazine named Reeva Steenkamp as one of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World.

Reeva’s last television appearance was on the South African celebrity reality show “Tropika Island of Treasure,” aired a few days after her death.

On September 12, 2014, Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide.

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News: Oscar Pistorius Granted Bail


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Pretoria, South Africa
Friday, February 22, 2013

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair granted bail to Oscar Pistorius ahead of his trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The judge cited a number of problems with the police investigation into the death of the model. “I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail,” he said.• He did not think Pistorius was a flight risk.

After the announcement, Pistorius remained quiet and reserved. Though his family hugged him quietly he did not seem to celebrate.

These are Judge Desmond Nair’s main reasons for granting bail:

• He did not think Pistorius was a flight risk.

•  He did not think the prosecution had shown that Pistorius had a propensity for violence.

• He did not think the prosecution had shown there would be public outrage if released on bail.

• He did not think the prosecution’s case was so strong that Pistorius’ only reasonable reaction were he released would be to flee.

Judge Nair said the former lead investigator in the case, Hilton Botha had made “several errors and concessions” during his testimony during the bail hearing. However, the judge also pointed out the holes in the story narrated by Pistorius: However, the judge also pointed out the holes in the story narrated by Pistorius:

• Why did Pistorius not find out Reeva’s whereabouts?

• Why did Pistorius not verify who was in the toilet?

• Why did Reeva not scream back from the toilet?

• Why did the deceased (Reeva) and the accused (Pistorius) not escape through the bedroom door but venture into the toilet?

• Why would the accused (Pistorius) venture into danger knowing the intruder was in the toilet, leaving himself open to attack? He (Pistorius) returned to the dangerous area. What if the intruder was waiting for him (Pistorius)?

The judge also said he had difficulty in understanding with the version provided by the defense of why the accused (Pistorius) slept on the other side of the bed from usual that night.

Judge Desmond Nair set the bail at 1m Rand (US$111,370; £73,000; €84330) and ordered to release the Olympian after posting bail by March 1, and 10% of it is due immediately. He ordered Pistorius not to go back to the Silver Woods estate, where the shooting took place; give up his passport; refrain from going near an airport; and report to a police station on Mondays and Fridays.

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News: South Africa Police Drop Lead Detective in Oscar Pistorius Attempted Murder Case


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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South Africa's National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega
South Africa’s National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega

In a fascinating new twist to the Oscar Pistorius murder case, South Africa’s National Commissioner Riah Phiyega has appointed Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo, Pretoria’s top detective as the new lead investigator in lieu of Hilton Botha. This announcement comes ahead of a judge’s decision on whether to release Pistorius on bail. This comes as one more blow to the prosecution’s case against the Olympian.

Police made this sensational announcement as Pistorius arrived for a third day of the bail hearing over the Valentine’s Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, which prosecutors say was a premeditated killing while the defendants argue that it was an accident.

Hilton Botha
Lead investigator Hilton Botha

The decision to replace Hilton Botha with police Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo in command came a day after he offered testimony damaging to the prosecution. Furthermore, word emerged that Hilton Botha, the first chief investigator himself is currently facing attempted murder charges in a 2011 shooting incident, when he and two other police officers allegedly fired shots at a minibus. Seven counts of attempted murder have been reinstated against them.

Bulewa Makeke, the spokeswoman for South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, said the charge against Botha was initially dropped “because there was not enough evidence at the time.” However, after Botha testified in Pistorius’ bail hearing on Wednesday, the police reinstated attempted murder charges against Botha and two other police officers because of more gathered evidence.

National Commissioner Riah Phiyega says the Pistorius case “shall receive attention at the national level” and Vinesh Moonoo will “gather a team of highly skilled experienced detectives.”

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News: Affidavit of Oscar Pistorius to Court (in Full)


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Pistorius must rot in Jail
Tuesday, February 19, 2013: A women’s group protest outside the court in Pretoria, South Africa, where Olympian athlete Oscar Pistorius was attending his bail hearing. (Photo: Reuters / Mike Hutchings)

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On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, the Paralympic Olympian “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius charged with premeditated murder over the February 14 shooting death of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp appeared in the Pretoria courtroom for his bail hearing.

Oscar Pistorius
A distraught Oscar Pistorius in court

As Pistorius was too distraught to read out the statement himself his senior defense lawyer Barry Roux read the affidavit to the judge.

The affidavit of Oscar Pistorius reads as follows:

I, the undersigned, Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius, do hereby make oath and state:

I am an adult male and a South African citizen with identity number [identity number redacted].

I am the Applicant in this application in which I seek relief from this Honourable Court to be released on bail. I respectfully submit, as I will demonstrate herein, that the interests of justice permit my release on bail. In any event, the dictates of fairness and justice in view of the peculiar facts herein warrant that I should not be deprived of my liberty and that I should be released on bail.

I make this affidavit of my own free will and have not in any way been unduly influenced to depose thereto.

The facts herein contained, save where expressly indicated to the contrary, are within my personal knowledge and belief, and are both true and correct.

The purpose of this affidavit is to provide the above Honourable Court with my personal circumstances and to address the allegations levelled against me (in so far as they are known to me), as well as to address the factors to be considered by the above Honourable Court as contained in Sections 60(4) to 60(9) of the Act.

I have been advised and I understand that I bear the burden to show that the interests of justice permit my release and that I am obliged to initiate this application. I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder, let alone premeditated murder, as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp (“Reeva”). However, I will put factors before the Honourable Court to show that it is in the interests of justice to permit my release on bail.

I state that the State will not be able to present any objective facts that I committed a planned or premeditated murder. For this reason I will hereunder deal with the events which occurred that evening. The objective facts will not refute my version as it is the truth.

I am a professional athlete and reside at [address redacted].

I was born on 22 November 1986, at Johannesburg. I have resided in the Republic of South Africa (“the RSA”) all my life, and although I frequently travel abroad to participate in international sporting events, I regard South Africa as my permanent place of abode. I have no intention to relocate to any other country as I love my country.

I own immovable assets in South Africa, which consist of the following:

The immovable property in which I currently reside, at [address redacted] (“the residential premises”). This property is valued at approximately R5 million and is encumbered by a mortgage bond in the amount of approximately R2 million.

Two further immovable properties located within Weeping Willow Estates, Pretoria East, which properties have a combined value of approximately R1,6 million. Both properties are bonded to an aggregate value of approximately R1 million.

A vacant stand in Langebaan, Western Cape, which has a value of approximately R1,7 million. This property is not bonded.

I own movable assets comprised of household furniture and effects, motor vehicles and jewellery, which are valued in excess of R500 000,00.

My friends and family reside in the RSA, although I also have friends abroad.

My professional occupation currently provides me with an income of approximately R5,6 million per annum.

I have cash investments in excess of R1 million at various banks within the RSA.

I have never been convicted of any criminal offences either in the RSA or elsewhere. There are no outstanding cases, other than the present, being investigated against me by the South African Police Services (“SAPS”).

My legal representatives have explained the provisions of Section 60(11) of the Act to me. I respectfully make the following submissions in this regard:

I have been informed that I am accused of having committed the offence of murder. I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms.

I am advised that I do not have to deal with the merits of the case for purposes of the bail application. However, I believe that it is appropriate to deal with the merits in this application, particularly in view of the State’s contention that I planned to murder Reeva. Nothing can be further from the truth and I have no doubt that it is not possible for the State to present objective facts to substantiate such an allegation, as there is no substance in the allegation. I do not know on what different facts the allegation of a premeditated murder could be premised and I respectfully request the State to furnish me with such alleged facts in order to allow me to refute such allegations.

On the 13th of February 2013 Reeva would have gone out with her friends and I with my friends. Reeva then called me and asked that we rather spend the evening at home. I agreed and we were content to have a quiet dinner together at home. By about 22h00 on 13 February 2013 we were in our bedroom. She was doing her yoga exercises and I was in bed watching television. My prosthetic legs were off. We were deeply in love and I could not be happier. I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine’s Day but asked me only to open it the next day.

After Reeva finished her yoga exercises she got into bed and we both fell asleep.

I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night.

During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom.

I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps.

I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on.

I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed.

I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door.

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. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps.

I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding.

When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help.

I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door. Reeva was slumped over but alive.

I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander (“Stander”) who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. I went downstairs to open the front door.

I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms.

I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva. With the benefit of hindsight I believe that Reeva went to the toilet when I went out on the balcony to bring the fan in. I cannot bear to think of the suffering I have caused her and her family, knowing how much she was loved. I also know that the events of that tragic night were as I have described them and that in due course I have no doubt the police and expert investigators will bear this out.

I will stand my trial should it proceed against me. I am a well-known international athlete and there is no possibility that I will even think of not standing my trial should there be one. I trust the South African legal system and that the facts will show that I did not murder Reeva.

In order to persuade the above Honourable Court that I should be released on bail, I provide the following additional facts and information in terms of Section 60 of the Act.

I do not know the identity of any witness upon whom the State will rely in order to attempt to prove a case against me. In any event, I have no intention to interfere with any witnesses as I have no cause to do so and I undertake not to do so.

I maintain good relationships with people and I bear no grudges against anyone.

As previously stated, I have no previous convictions and I have not been released on bail pending any charges.

I am not disposed to violence.

I respectfully submit that the facts set out above support my contention that I do not constitute a flight risk.

I have two South African passports, the one is full. I need my passport to compete overseas but I am willing to surrender the passports to the investigating officer should it be a condition of bail. I am not in possession of any other travel documents and undertake not to apply for such documentation pending the finalisation of these proceedings.

After the shooting I did not attempt to flee. Rather, I accepted Stander would contact the police, and I remained at the scene.

I will be able to raise an appropriate amount to post as bail.

I have no knowledge of any evidentiary material which may exist with regard to the allegations levelled against me. In any event, I believe that whatever such evidence may be, it is in the possession of the police; it is safely secured and I do not have access thereto. I undertake not to interfere with any further investigations.

I am not sure which witnesses the State will rely upon in order to attempt to prove its case against me. Nonetheless, I undertake not to communicate with any witness, whoever he or she may be, and any other persons whose names may appear on a list of “State witnesses”, to be provided by the State.

My continued incarceration can only prejudice me and creates no benefit to the State.

I respectfully submit that should I be released on bail, my release shall not disturb the public order or undermine the proper functioning of the criminal justice system.
I will comply with such conditions as the above Honourable Court may wish to impose.

I accordingly submit that the interests of justice, considerations of prejudice and the balancing of respective interests favour my release on bail.

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What Do You Mean by “Handicapped”?


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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The word physically handicapped or physical disability conjures in our mind a person with some impairment to the body that limits the physical function of limbs or movement or mobility.

I came across the following images on the net. Would you label these people “handicapped”?

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One armed, one legged cycle rickshaw driver
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One legged labourer

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Handicpped wotker

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The Nuclear Sacrifice of Our Children by Dr. Helen Caldicott


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By Helen Caldicott

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When I visited Cuba in 1979, I was struck by the number of roadside billboards that declared ”Our children are our national treasure.”

This resonated with me as a pediatrician, and of course it is true. But as Akio Matsumura said in his article, our children are presently being sacrificed for the political and nuclear agenda of the United Nations, for the political survival of politicians who are mostly male, and for “national security.”

The problem with the world today is that scientists have left the average person way behind in their level of understanding of science, and specifically how the misapplication of science, in particular nuclear science, has and will destroy much of the ecosphere and also human health.

The truth is that most politicians, businessmen, engineers and nuclear physicists have no innate understanding of radiobiology and the way radiation induces cancer, congenital malformations and genetic diseases which are passed generation to generation.  Nor do they recognize that children are 20 times more radiosensitive than adults, girls twice as vulnerable as little boys and fetuses much more so.

Hence the response of Japanese politicians to the Fukushima disaster has been ludicrously irresponsible, not just because of their fundamental ignorance but because of their political ties with TEPCO and the nuclear industry which tends to orchestrate a large part of the Japanese political agenda.

Because the Fukushima accident released 2.5 to 3 times more radiation than Chernobyl and because Japan is far more densely populated than the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and because one million people have died within 25 years as a result of Chernobyl, we expect to see more than one million Japanese casualties over the next 25 years.  But the incubation time for cancer after radiation exposure varies from 2 to 90 years in this generation.  These facts also apply to all future generations in Japan that will be exposed to a radioactive environment and radioactive food.

It seems that the people in charge in Japan are busily ignoring or covering up these ghastly medical predictions and deciding in their ignorance that people can return to live highly contaminated areas or else remain living there.  Even areas of Tokyo are recording dangerous radioactive isotopes that originated in Fukushima in house-dust, in plants, and in street soil.

Thyroid cancers related to Chernobyl started appearing only three to four years post-accident (over 92,000 have now been diagnosed).  Yet only 12 months post-accident in the Fukushima Prefecture, 36% of 38,000 children under 18 have been diagnosed by ultrasound with thyroid cysts or nodules (most of these lesions should be biopsied to exclude malignancy). This short incubation time would indicate that these children almost certainly received a very high dose of thyroid radiation from inhaled and ingested radioactive iodine.

These results bode ill for the development of other cancers because hundreds of other radioactive elements escaped which are now concentrating in food, fish and human bodies and inhaled into the lungs.  Some elements are radioactive for minutes but many remain radioactive for hundreds to thousands of years meaning much of the Japanese food will remain radioactive for generations to come.  Nuclear accidents therefore never end.  40% of the European landmass is still radioactive and will remain so for millennia.

So what should happen in Japan? These are my recommendations.

  1. All areas of Japan should be tested to assess how radioactive the soil and water are because the winds can blow the radioactive pollution hundreds of miles from the point source at Fukushima.
  2.  Under no circumstances should radioactive rubbish and debris be incinerated as this simply spreads the isotopes far and wide to re-concentrate in food and fish.
  3. All batches of food must be adequately tested for specific radioactive elements using spectrometers.
  4. No radioactive food must be sold or consumed, nor must radioactive food be diluted for sale with non-radioactive food as radioactive elements re-concentrate in various bodily organs.
  5.  All water used for human consumption should be tested weekly.
  6.  All fish caught off the east coast must be tested for years to come.
  7.  All people, particularly children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age still living in high radiation zones should be immediately evacuated to non-radioactive areas of Japan.
  8. All people who have been exposed to radiation from Fukushima  – particularly babies, children, immunosuppressed, old people and others — must be medically thoroughly and routinely examined for malignancy, bone marrow suppression, diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, heart disease, premature aging, and cataracts for the rest of their lives and appropriate treatment instituted. Leukemia will start to manifest within the next couple of years, peak at five years and solid cancers will start appearing 10 to 15 years post-accident and will continue to increase in frequency in this generation over the next 70 to 90 years.
  9. All physicians and medical care providers in Japan must read and examine Chernobyl–Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment by the New York Academy of Sciences to understand the true medical gravity of the situation they face.
  10.  I also suggest with humility that doctors in particular but also politicians and the general public refer to my web page, nuclearfreeplanet.org for more information, that they listen to the interviews related to Fukushima and Chernobyl on my radio program at ifyoulovethisplanet.org and they read my book NUCLEAR POWER IS NOT THE ANSWER.
  11. The international medical community and in particular the WHO must be mobilized immediately to assist the Japanese medical profession and politicians to implement this massive task outlined above.
  12. The Japanese government must be willing to accept international advice and help.
  13. As a matter of extreme urgency Japan must request and receive international advice and help from the IAEA and the NRC in the U.S., and nuclear specialists from Canada, Europe, etc., to prevent the collapse of Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 4 and the spent fuel pool if there was an earthquake greater than 7 on the Richter scale.As the fuel pool crashed to earth it would heat and burn causing a massive radioactive release 10 times larger than the release from Chernobyl. There is no time to spare and at the moment the world community sits passively by waiting for catastrophe to happen.
  14. The international and Japanese media must immediately start reporting the facts from Japan as outlined above. Not to do so is courting global disaster.

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Re-posted from Reader Supported NewsAugust 28, 2012

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Dr. Helen Caldicott is a pediatrician specializing in cystic fibrosis and the founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, which as part of a larger group that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Please visit her website.

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Ellie May Challis vs Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius, born 22 November 1986, is a South African sprinter. He is known as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man with no legs.”

When Pistorius was just 11 months old doctors found that he had no fibula in both his legs. He was amputated below the knees.

Pistorius, now aged 25, is a world record holding sprinter. He runs with the aid of Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs made by Össur, Reykjavík, Iceland.

He competes in T44 (single below knee amputees) events though he is actually classified in T43 (double below knee amputee). He is the world record holder for T44 in the 100, 200 and 400 metres events.

In 2007, Pistorius took part in his first international competitions for able-bodied athletes. Many claimed that his artificial lower legs, provides him an unfair advantage over able-bodied runners. After monitoring his track performances and carrying out tests, scientists took the view that he enjoyed considerable advantages over athletes without prosthetic limbs. On the strength of these findings the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) amended its competition rules. It banned the use of

“any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device.”

The IAAF claimed that the amendment was not specifically aimed at Pistorius. However, on January 14, 2008 the IAAF ruled him ineligible for competitions conducted under its rules. That included the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Pistorius sought the help of sports lawyer Jeffrey L. Kessler, who has represented the NFL and NBA Players Associations. On May 16, 2008 the ruling of the IAAF was reversed by the Tribunal Arbitral du Sport. The Court ruled that overall there was no evidence to show that Pistorius had any net advantage over able-bodied athletes. Pistorius was given back his right to compete in the Olympics.

Although eligible to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, he did not qualify for the South African team. On 16 July 2008 he achieved third place and a personal best time of 46.25 seconds in the 400 metres in Lucerne, Switzerland. But this was short of the Olympic qualification time of 45.55 seconds. And for the 4 x 400 metres relay there were four other runners who achieved better timing.

At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, he won gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400 metres (T44) sprints.

Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius at London 2012 olympics
Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius at London 2012 olympics

He is now representing his country at the London 2012 Olympics.

A few months ago, Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius met the chirpy 8-year-old Ellie May Challis.

Baby Ellie May Challis

Ellie May Challis was born in Essex, England in 2004. When she was just 16 months old, she was struck down with a near fatal case of meningitis. She survived; but the effect of the deadly septicemia bacteria was so severe that both her arms and legs had to be amputated.

Ellie was originally fitted with standard prosthetic legs. She found it difficult keeping up with her siblings (twin sister, Sophie and older siblings Tai-la,9 and Connor, 11) and other children her age.

Ellie May Challis
Ellie May with her siblings (twin sister, Sophie and older siblings Tai-la,9 and Connor, 11)

Ellie’s community loved the little girl. They raised enough money for new carbon fiber prosthetic legs, same as those used by Paralympic sprinters. This makes Ellie the youngest person ever to have carbon fiber prosthetic legs.

On the first day to her school, Ellie walked on her own in her new carbon fiber prosthetic legs.

There are several advantages of using carbon fiber over fiberglass or Kevlar. Carbon fiber is extremely strong. It is much more lightweight and could be turned into very thin sheets. A major disadvantage, however, is that carbon fiber, when bent to a great extent, can break.

Ellie loves her new limbs. Within seconds of having them on, she was off. They will have to be replaced every two years as she continues to grow.

Here’s a video of Ellie learning to walk using the new carbon fiber legs:

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When Oscar Pistorius and Ellie May met, knowing that both have been fitted with prosthetic limbs, they decided to challenge each other to a few races. Pistorius seemed to have underestimated Ellie. Just mere weeks after learning to walk with her new carbon fiber prosthetic legs, Ellie was able to beat Pistorius in all four of their 15-meter races!

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Technology for the Disabled


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Have you ever thought about reduced mobility? I mean are you able to walk about freely, doing your daily chores such as cooking, washing, shopping, banking etc., as a normal person does? If so, thank the deities you worship, because reduced mobility is an affliction that millions of people all over the world live with everyday.

Motorized Wheelchair

The number of people in the world suffering from disabilities such as back pain, cerebral palsy, arthritis, Multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and many other continue to increase year by year, and has become a major concern to everyone.

Modern technology has produced gadgets and mobility aids also known as ambulation devices such as canes, crutches, walkers, manual and electric wheelchairs, motorized scooters, stair lifts, rollators, lift chairs etc., to help the disabled, injured and the aged to move somewhat freely from place to place.

Choosing the correct device for a particular person takes time and research.

Today, while surfing the net, I stumbled upon a video that showed a robotic mobilization device called Tek RMD (Tek Robotic Mobilization Device) developed by AMS Mekatronic.

This firm established in Istanbul, Turkey, is an R&D company, founded to develop mobilization devices based on innovative ideas for physically disabled people.

Tek RMD, provides the opportunity of movement for people with paraplegia by enabling them to independently stand up in a completely upright position with correct posture, facilitating their movement and comfortable completion of their daily tasks indoors, such as in the home, office and shopping mall. Tek RMD is not an alternative to wheelchairs, it is a totally new concept, a new platform.

What is Tek RMD from Tek RMC on Vimeo

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Esther Vergeer – the world’s greatest Wheelchair Tennis player


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Esther Vergeer - 2012 Australian Open - Day 13

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Esther Vergeer born on July 18, 1981 in Woerden, Netherlands is the greatest wheelchair tennis player of all time. Since 2003, she has won every singles match she has played – around 444 matches in the last nine years.

In 1999, at the age of 18, Esther became world number one. She is now 30, and she still plays on. Between 2004 and 2006, she never lost a set – winning 250 in a row. During her career, Esther has won 39 Grand Slam titles – 20 singles and 19 doubles, as well as five Paralympics and 22 year-end championship titles.

Esther has been nominated six times including 2012 as Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. She won this prestigious Award twice – in 2002 and 2008.

Esther Vergeer - US Open 2007

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Esther Vergeer was paralyzed from the waist down in 1990 at the age of eight after undergoing surgery for a spinal defect and brain haemorrhage. Part of her rehabilitation programme involved playing sports, and she found she had an aptitude for wheelchair tennis and basketball, eventually choosing to concentrate on tennis from the time she was 17. She says that she no longer sees herself as disabled.

“At the beginning, I didn’t realize I’d be paralyzed the rest of my life. I was little and in pain and in hospital and all those things together made me think that when I got home and I didn’t have pain any more, I would be able to walk again,” she told Marianne Bevis of The Sport Review.

“But when I got back home, had to go back to school, play with my friends, it dawned on me it would be the rest of my life.

“In the beginning it’s hard, of course, everything I did I compared with before: It was easier when I could walk, it was more fun when I could walk, so it was difficult.

“I guess sports, and the people around me, made me realize that the world doesn’t end. Now I can do all the things that other 30-year-olds do so I don’t see myself as a disabled.

“I love this game more than anybody. It’s a lot of sacrifice, it’s a lot of effort, but I do enjoy that.

“My main motivation is the inner game: I just love the sport, I love the training, but then also the way I see that I can improve in so many aspects still.

“Then there’s the motivation of the Olympics: You have to set certain goals, and this year for sure I’ve set my goal – my mind – on the Olympics.”

Away from the court, Esther with her own charitable foundation continues to work tirelessly to encourage a new generation of athletes by organizing wheelchair sports clinics. She also continues to work closely with the Johan Cruyff Foundation and the Dutch National Paralympic Committee and is also a member of the Laureus Friends & Ambassadors programme.

I have posted below some images of Esther Vergeer – the world’s greatest Wheelchair Tennis player.

Esther Vergeer attends the Laureus Sports Awards at the Palau Sant Jordi on April 2, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain.


Esther Vergeer after winning Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award in 2008.

Esther Vergeer poses with the championship trophy after winning her women’s wheelchair final match against Korie Homan of the Netherlands during day thirteen of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

Esther Vergeer and Rafael Nadal of Spain pose for a photo during day two of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament at the Ahoy Centre Rotterdam on February 10, 2009 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Esther Vergeer poses with her award at the ITF World Champions Gala on day ten of the French Open on June 1, 2010 in Paris, France.

Esther Vergeer  with her trophy celebrates after she defeated Daniela Di Toro of Australia in her women’s wheelchair singles final during day fourteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Esther Vergeer poses with the Women’s Wheelchair Roll of Honour Award during the ITF World Champions Dinner at Pavillion D’Armenonville on May 31, 2011 in Paris, France.

Esther Vergeer celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Aniek Van Koot of the Netherlands in the Wheelchair Women’s Singles Final during Day Fourteen of the 2011 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Esther Vergeer (L) poses with the winners trophy after defeating Aniek Van Koot (R) of the Netherlands in their Women’s Wheelchair singles final match during day thirteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.

Esther Vergeer poses in the Winners Studio during the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards at Central Hall Westminster on February 6, 2012 in London, England.