Vories 'country girl' steals the spotlight

2013-04-06 00:00

THE furore following the publication of the photograph showing Oscar Pistorius back on the athletics track has been a whirlwind of excitement for the Pietermaritzburg pupil who snapped it.

Lisa Smith (17), who took the photograph which has been widely published in South Africa and overseas, said she had not expected the excitement her picture had generated worldwide.

Lisa snapped the picture in a chance encounter while on tour with her Voortrekker High School hockey team at Pretoria University on March 24.

Pistorius’s agent, Peet van Zyl, maintained that he and the athlete’s coach were unaware that Oscar was back at the track at the time. They later said, after calling Pistorius, that he had told them he had gone for a jog that day.

The Witness was inundated with requests for the photo from newspapers in the UK and Germany, as well TV broadcasters worldwide, including Sky News.

Speaking to Weekend Witness, Lisa said, “I really didn’t expect this. It was the last day and we were on our way home when we saw him. We were all so excited. We stopped the bus and I thought, ‘I’m going to take a photo because it’s Oscar Pistorius’. It was really innocently done.”

She said the worldwide attention the photograph has received was “unreal”.

“It was on the news on TV and on the front page of The Witness. I never expected that. I was quite excited to think I took that photograph of that moment.”

Asked how she had reacted to all the attention that taking the photograph had attracted, Lisa giggled: “I just go on like I’m famous. I joke around about it. My friends and family laugh.”

She said in future she would be on the lookout for more pictures that could be published.

“My coach joked and said to me that I have found a new career in photography.”

She said her uncle in Bloemfontein and her granny on the South Coast had called her on Thursday night after they had spotted her picture on the TV news.

She said she took the photo with her iPhone. “I will keep it for the rest of my life.”

Asked what her hobbies are, she laughed and said she believes photography will be her new pastime when she’s away from the Voortrekker school hostel and not busy riding motorbikes and horses on the farm she lives on near Kokstad. “I also love playing hockey.”

Her mother, Karen, said: “All this has been a very big surprise for Lisa, who is a normal country girl and was just enjoying her hockey tournament, never thinking that taking a photo through a bus window and capturing Oscar through the fencing could explode to such an extent, nationally and internationally.”

Lisa’s hockey coach, Charmaine Koekemoer, said she too had not expected the attention the story and photograph received.

“It’s been a learning curve. There’s a life lesson here for the pupils too. When you are popular, the press will make you brilliant, but if you do something wrong, they will expose you.”

She said that while she remained a coach, she was keen to teach her pupils whatever she could beyond the sports arena.

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