Pistorius could return to athletics


Published: Saturday 13th September 2014 by The News Editor

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The International Paralympic Committeee will allow Oscar Pistorius to compete in the future after the movement’s most famous athlete was found guilty of the culpable homicide of his girlfriend.

South African double amputee runner Pistorius was said to have acted “negligently” when he fired shots through a toilet door, killing Reeva Steenkamp, but in the “belief that there was an intruder”, Judge Thokozile Masipa said in her verdict in Pretoria.

Pistorius will be sentenced on October 13 but the IPC said it would allow him to return to the sport.

Craig Spence, the IPC ‘s director of media and communications, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Oscar’s done a great deal for the Paralympic movement, he’s been an inspiration to millions, but obviously his priority now is to see (what) the judge decides.

“And then if he wishes to resume his athletics career then we wouldn’t step in his way, we would allow him to compete again in the future.”

The IPC’s chief executive Xavier Gonzalez said Pistorius had been a “fundamental ambassador” for the movement in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics but that the trial had not had a negative impact on the Paralympic sport.

Gonzalez said: “Since it started more than two years ago, this trial has not had any impact on our activities.

“We have been very clear in differentiating our work from what was happening in the life of one individual.

“That will not change with the verdict today. The trial has not had any negative impact on the Paralympic movement. Since London with Sochi in 2014 we have seen an incredible growth in all aspects of our activities and we look forward very positively to Rio and PyeongChang.

“Oscar was a fundamental ambassador of the Paralympic movement in the period between 2008 and 2012. Since then the Paralympic movement has many other ambassadors and many other athletes that have been recognised globally and we believe that will continue growing as we lead up to 2016.”

In her verdict, Judge Masipa said the state had failed to prove Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp. He was also found guilty on a charge of negligently handling a firearm that went off in a restaurant.

A statement from the IPC added: “Following today’s verdict, our thoughts remain with all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy, in particular the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp who sadly lost her life in this incident.”

Steenkamp’s parents have said they are “shocked” and “disappointed” after the court verdict.

Pistorius always admitted killing his 29-year-old girlfriend on Valentine’s Day in 2013. But the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter insisted it was a tragic accident.

Speaking to ITV News after the verdict, June and Barry Steenkamp said they did not “fully” believe the account from Pistorius of what happened on the night their daughter was killed.

Asked how they felt as the ruling was delivered, Mrs Steenkamp said: “We were shocked. Shocked. Disappointed. You know your heart drops because you just want the truth. It’s going in the wrong direction, that’s how you feel.”

Mr Steenkamp said: “It’s a funny thing to say or a thing a person shouldn’t say, to see a man there with the status that he had, in the world, to see somebody standing there so pathetic.

“You actually feel deep down, you know, he could have been prevented. You actually feel sorry for him. I understand that he is sorry he’s done it and this and that.

“As I said, there is still something missing. I think there was more to the whole story, you know, coming up to the actual shooting, the killing.”

He added: “I only wish that the true, true story will come out one day.”

Mrs Steenkamp said she could not look at Pistorius inside the courtroom after the verdict as he and his supporters were “jubilant”.

Judge Masipa turned down an application by prosecutors to refuse bail, after the claim that Pistorius may be a flight risk. It means the 400m runner will continue to live with his uncle Arnold in Pretoria, his residence for the 18 months since the shooting.

After the hearing, Arnold Pistorius said the family were ”grateful” to the judge for finding the sportsman not guilty of murder.

”That’s a big burden off our shoulders,” he said.

”We always knew the facts of the matter and we never had any doubt in Oscar’s version of this tragic incident.

”We as a family remain deeply affected by the devastating tragedy.”

Published: Saturday 13th September 2014 by The News Editor

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