‘He is a gentleman’

2014-02-25 00:00

HURDLER Claudia Viljoen was not even properly awake nor aware of the media storm that photos of her and Oscar Pistorius had started when the phone started ringing early on a Saturday in June last year.

The British newspaper the Sun had reported that Viljoen was the new “attractive blonde” at Pistorius’s side. This was just a few months after Pistorius had shot his blonde model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Across the world, people wanted to know who Claudia Viljoen was and what her relationship with Pistorius was.

Journalists even called her fiancé to ask about his fiancée and the Paralympic champion.

“I did not even know about the reports. Then journalists called waking up my fiancé, asking where I was and what was happening and what is the story behind the story.

“It was very bad,” recalled Viljoen, who has meanwhile married the fiancé, James Heunis, a business consultant.

“The thing that was the worst for me [back then] was that we had just become engaged.”

But Viljoen said Heunis and everyone who knew them knew — she and Pistorius had always just been good friends and mates during training sessions.

Viljoen said she was “a girl of 14, 15 years” when she and Pistorius met through athletics. “All the coaches know each other and they always wanted us to compete against each other,” she said and laughed. But that race never happened.

“Shame, he is such a good person, he probably would have let me win.”

Viljoen said Pistorius was “the person with the softest heart” that she had ever met. “Whether we were in Italy or here in South Africa, if there was anyone that he had to help, he would help. He is a true gentleman.” She said he had assisted her a lot in her personal life, “with athletics and old boyfriends and such”.

“He would always ask, ‘How are you?’ And if he saw something was not all right he would say, ‘Come, let’s go buy an ice cream’.”

Now she is the one that supports Pistorius. “Just to be there, even if it is just to drink coffee and to laugh about … no, one does not laugh …

“I think it is impossible to clear your head about this. He just focuses on what he has to do. What helps him a lot is if he can train, to get his head clean.”

She will not be in court for the trial. “As much as I want to support him, I don’t think it is my place, especially after the media stories.”

What does she hope for him? “Because he is a good friend, I wish people will give him a fair chance. No one knows what happened that night. I really hope people will not judge him in advance.”

She thinks for a while and then says, “And that he will get back all he lost afterward.”

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