Oscar Pistorius spotted 'training'

2013-04-04 08:02
This photo of Oscar Pistorius apparently training at the University of Pretoria was taken by a Pietermaritzburg pupil. (The Witness)

This photo of Oscar Pistorius apparently training at the University of Pretoria was taken by a Pietermaritzburg pupil. (The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Oscar Pistorius is back on the athletics track.

This fact came to light thanks to a group of Pietermaritzburg school hockey players who spotted the paralympian athlete and murder accused on the track in Pretoria two weekends ago.

The hockey coach, her assistant and the pupils from Voortrekker High saw Pistorius on the athletics field at Pretoria University (Tukkies) on 24 March.

“None of us are in any doubt. We saw Oscar training,” said Voortrekker’s director of sport, Charmaine Koekemoer.

Blades and training gear

She told The Witness on Wednesday that the team were attending a hockey clinic at Tukkies and that they had been surprised to see Pistorius on the track wearing his blades and training gear.

“As we drove past on our way out on Sunday at 10:15, one of the kids screamed, ‘There’s Oscar!’. As true as Bob, there he was.”

She said he was walking down the 100 metre straight, dressed in a vest and lycra shorts.

Koekemoer said there was great excitement in the school bus as the pupils snapped pictures with their cellphones. She said the children had spoken about the star with interest in light of his recent arrest for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

A few minutes later her pupils had already distributed the pictures on a mobile messaging app.

Koekemoer’s story was corroborated by assistant hockey coach Anna-Marie Maartens, who said they stopped the bus to watch as he walked on the tartan track and stopped to take his prosthetics off.

“We could see his face. He had his glasses on. It was just him. I was quite excited to say I had seen Oscar after the whole Reeva Steenkamp issue.”

Sympathy

Koekemoer was adamant Pistorius was training, despite claims by his camp that the court case had put paid to his running. “They’re trying to get sympathy. Whether he’s training socially or for an event, he is still on the track. When I saw the story on News24, I thought to myself they’re even lying to News24.”

News24, quoting Rapport, reported on Sunday that the athlete’s agent, Peet van Zyl, said Oscar had not been back to an athletics field to train since he shot Steenkamp dead on Valentine’s Day.

“He is in mourning, he is still trying to cope with her death. He is human,” Van Zyl told Rapport.

“He is obviously able to train again,” said Koekemoer.

She said there were other people at the track who must have also seen him.

“There were security guards around, but we don’t know if they were there for his protection or if they were guarding the facility.”

Responding to the account, Van Zyl said on Wednesday that neither he nor Ampie Louw, Pistorius’s coach, was aware that Oscar had trained that day at Tukkies. “He did not mention it to me or his coach.”

However, he later confirmed to The Witness that he had called Pistorius and asked if he had been at the track on 24 March.

'He wasn't there to train'

“He said he had a training group out from Australia who had asked to go to the track. He said he wasn’t there to train. He hasn’t trained yet.”

Asked why Pistorius was seen wearing his blades and training gear, Van Zyl said he had probably been “trying to see if he could have a bit of a run-around”.

Van Zyl added that Pistorius wanted to get back to training.

“When he does begin training is his decision alone. He will compete again when he feels he is ready to do so. Before that, it’s important that Oscar feels he is mentally and physically ready.”

Van Zyl dismissed as “nonsense” reports that Pistorius would take part in the London Anniversary Games and the World Championships in Moscow in August. “Oscar is very eager to get onto the track. We want him to get going. He needs to do so in order to clear his head.”

He said there was no final decision about a training programme or when one could begin.

Pistorius’s bail conditions were relaxed last week, making it possible for him to attend athletics competitions overseas.

His next court appearance has been scheduled for 4 June.

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pietermaritzburg
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