News of Oscar Pistorius leaves many in disbelief
LONDON (AP) – Out in the small Italian town of Gemona, among many places around the world, the arrest of Oscar Pistorius on murder charges was hard to believe.
It was on a new track in the northeastern corner of Italy that the double-amputee from South Africa trained last year for his Olympic debut, running lap after lap on his Cheetah Flex-Foot blades in preparation for his trip to the world’s biggest sporting event.
On Thursday, shortly after Pistorius was charged in South Africa with the shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, the mayor of Gemona said it was tough to take.
“The news shocked not only me personally but also the whole of Gemona and the region. It’s come as a huge shock to everyone who knew him,” Mayor Paolo Urbani told The Associated Press.
“I have to say Oscar was an exceptional testimonial for our project, helping the city take forward its sporting plans. He’s a delightful person, not only as a sportsman but also how he is as a human being. The news is still very fragmentary and we’re waiting to hear more, to find out exactly what happened.”
Pistorius fought for years to be able to compete against able-bodied athletes after many said his carbon-fiber blades gave him an unfair advantage. He finally won his case in 2008, but failed to run the qualifying time for the Beijing Olympics.
He did, however, make South Africa’s team for last year’s London Olympics, reaching the semifinals in the 400m and then running for South Africa’s 4x400m relay team in the final.
The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee each had little to say about the case.
“This is not the moment for the IOC to be commenting on this tragic incident. Our thoughts are with the families affected and we send them our deepest sympathies,” the IOC said in a statement.
The IPC said it was “police matter.”
“Therefore it would be inappropriate for the IPC to comment on this incident until the official police process has concluded,” the IPC said in a statement on its website. “The IPC would like to offer its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families involved in this case.”
The South African Olympic committee released a statement saying they had been “inundated” with requests for comment but were not in a position to give out any details of the shooting.