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Entries in Blade Runner (5)

Friday
Feb152013

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Disputes Murder Charge

Liza van Deventer/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- According to a statement released Friday by his manager, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee and Olympic track star, is disputing the murder charges leveled against him "in the strongest terms."

Pistorius appeared in court in the South African capital of Pretoria for the first time since his arrest in conjunction with the death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The New York Times reports that the prosecution plans to charge Pistorius with premeditated murder, the most serious murder charge under South African law.

Pistorius did not speak or enter a plea in court, but said in the statement that "our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family -- regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy."

The track star's agent made clear that because the legal proceedings are now active, they "must be allowed to take their course through the process of proper investigation by the police, evidence-gathering and through the local South African judicial system."

According to the Times, during the brief hearing on Friday, Pistorius' lawyers asked for a postponement of the bail hearing in order to perform their own investigation into the circumstances surrounding Steenkamp's death. The magistrate agreed and decided that Pistorius will be held at a local police station until his next court appearance. The judge also decided that the hearing will not be broadcast, and no photographs can be taken.

According to investigators, Pistorius shot Steenkamp with a handgun around 3 a.m. on Thursday at his home in a gated community in Pretoria. Witnesses reported hearing an argument or shouting at the complex before the shooting, and investigators found only Steenkamp and Pistorius on the premises, police said Thursday.

Police also reported that there had been previously reported incidents of a domestic nature at Pistorius' home.

Pistorius is expected back in court on Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb142013

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Kept Weapons for Security, Journalist Says

Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic and Paralympic athlete who was charged Thursday with the murder of his girlfriend at his South Africa home, kept a handgun by his bedside and a "machine gun" in his bedroom, according to a British journalist who has spent time with him.

Pistorius, who has been nicknamed the "Blade Runner" for the carbon-fiber blades on which he runs, was accused Thursday of killing his girlfriend, 30-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius allegedly shot Steenkamp several times at his home overnight in the South African capital of Pretoria.

The sprinter, who took home gold and silver medals at the London Paralympics in 2012, enjoyed firing guns and would often leave his home in the middle of the night to shoot at a nearby range, according to Daily Mail writer Jonathan McEvoy, who spent time at Pistorius' Silverwoods estate on the outskirts of Pretoria in 2011.

"He enjoyed shooting," McEvoy told ABC News in a telephone interview from London. "There was a range nearby, and when he wasn't able to sleep in the night, he'd go there. He had a small gun by his bed, and a big gun by the window, some sort of machine gun."

Although Pistorius' home, which McEvoy described as big for a young man living on his own, is heavily secured with his personal armed guards, Pistorius told McEvoy that he worried that the guards were working with potential burglars on invading his home.

"It's usually safe in guarded estates like this until that happens," McEvoy said Pistorius told him.

Gated communities are increasingly popular with the wealthy in South Africa, as well as the middle class. Guard dogs, electric fencing and complex security systems are designed to protect residents from threats from the outside world.

Pistorius' concerns about his personal safety in his home were similarly reflected in a January 2012 New York Times article, in which he described his reaction to a security alarm going off in his home. When the alarm triggered, he crept downstairs, gun in hand, only to find nothing, according to the Times report.

Crime, particularly violent crime, along with robberies and home invasions, is a significant issue across Pretoria and South Africa, which has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime. In 2011, the homicide rate was 31.8 per 100,000 people.

McEvoy said Pistorius had an unusually large arsenal.

"Even by the standards of a very scary area where he lived, it was unusual for him to have as much as that," he told ABC News.

McEvoy described Pistorius as generally easygoing and relaxed, but prone to drastic shifts in mood.

"On days his mood would swing the other way, and he could be very miserable and down, surly, and there was no reason to explain it," he said.

Police said they have heard reports of an argument or shouting at the apartment complex, and that the only two people on the premises were Steenkamp and Pistorius. Police also confirmed there have previously been incidents of a domestic nature at the home of Pistorius.

South African Sports journalist Lelo Mzaca refuted rumors that Pistorius was anti-female in an interview Thursday with ABC News.

"There have been rumors about him not being a nice person, and not having a good track record as far as some girlfriends are concerned," he said. "I've never encountered that side of Oscar Pistorius, because every time I've met the man, he's been an absolute gentleman."

A spokesperson for Pistorius at Fast Track in London said Pistorius is "assisting the police with their investigation, but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer."

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said a court hearing for Pistorius, who is in jail, will be Friday at 9 a.m. local time.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep032012

'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius Loses Race and Says Winner Cheated

Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Some would call "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius, South Africa's most celebrated paralympian, a sore loser.

After losing his T44 (below knee amputee) 200 meter title by .07 seconds Sunday night, Pistorius told British broadcaster Channel 4: "We are not running in a fair race here." Pistorius insisted that there was an issue with large prosthetics lengthening his Brazilian competitor's stride.

Pistorius, who was the first amputee runner in the history of the Olympics this year, apologized Monday for the timing of his comments about Alan Oliveira's victory, but not for the message he was trying to get across.

"That was Alan's moment and I would like to put on record the respect I have for him," Pistorius, 25, said in a statement. "But I do believe there is an issue here."

Pistorius had set a new world record of 21.30 seconds when qualifying for the 200 meter final on Saturday, breaking Oliveira's own record of 21.88 in a different heat. But Oliveira, 20, caught Pistorius in the final 20 meters of the final race last night, marking the first time Pistorius didn't win a 200 meter run.

"He's never run a 21 second-race and I don't think he's a 21-second athlete,'' Pistorius had said. "I don't know how you can come back, watching the replay, from eight meters behind on the 100 to win. It's absolutely ridiculous."

Oliveira insisted he had not broken the rules, and said he was disappointed with his "idol's" criticism.

"To listen to that coming from a really great athlete is really difficult,'' Oliveira said through a translator after the race. Asked if he had changed the length of his blades between the semi-final and the final, Oliveira said, "No. Since the first time I put them on, they've been following the IPC rules and I've been using them already for a whole month."

The International Paralympic Committee today said that, according to regulations set out two years ago, all athletes competing are regularly checked prior to participation in the Call Room, and that rules that determine the length of an athlete's blades are determined by a formula based on the height and dynamics of the athlete.

"The IPC respects the significant role Oscar has played in raising the global profile of Paralympic Sports since his Games debut in 2004," said Committee Director Craig Spence.

An IPC spokesperson told ABC News that that they agreed to meet with Pistorius at a later date so that he could "raise his questions in a formal environment away from the emotion of the stadium."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug042012

First Double-Amputee Sprinter Competes in Olympic Games

Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images(LONDON) -- South Africa's "Blade Runner," Oscar Pistorius, has made good on living up to his other nickname, "the fastest man on no legs."

The four-time Paralympic gold medal winner, 25, qualified for the 400-meter semifinals Saturday, making him the first double amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics. He runs on prosthetic legs called Flex-Foot Cheetahs.

Pistorius came in second in his heat, surpassed by Luguelin Santos, 19, of the Dominican Republic. Pistorius ranked 16 in the standings out of the 47 runners who finished their heats Saturday. Twenty-four sprinters advanced to the semi-finals Sunday looking to reach the Monday finals for a chance at Olympic glory.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported me, that was UNBELIEVABLE! Was so amazing to feel the energy from the crowd! Semi-final tomorrow! :)" he tweeted to his followers after the heat.

He ran a seasonal best of 45.44. The 400-meter Olympic record is 43.4, set by American Michael Johnson in 1996 at the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Pistorius' journey to the top can only be described as miraculous. After he underwent amputation surgery when he was 11 months old, he received his first pair of prosthetic legs at 17 months.

According to his website, Pistorius took up track running to bounce back from a rugby injury at the advice of his doctor when he was 16. The next year, he competed in his first Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 and won a gold medal in the T44 200-meter race, breaking the existing world record in the event where single below-knee amputees and other athletes with equivalent impairments compete.

Of his semi-final qualification at the London 2012 Games, Pistorius took to Twitter to say it felt "surreal."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul042012

‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius Selected for London Olympics

(NEW YORK) -- South African world champion sprinter Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty ImagesOscar Pistorius, nicknamed the “Blade Runner” for the carbon fiber blades on which he runs, will be the first amputee track athlete to participate in the Olympics after he was selected to compete in this year’s London games.

“Today is really one of the happiest days of my life! Will be in London 2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Pistorius tweeted. “Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!”

Pistorius, 25, was named Wednesday as one of 13 athletes on South Africa’s 4×400 National Relay Team by the country’s Olympic committee, despite previously failing to qualify in the individual 400 meters.

Last week at the African championships, Pistorius needed to run under the ‘A’ standard time twice to automatically qualify for the London games, but was less than a quarter of a second shy of achieving the qualification.

Pistorius, also nicknamed “The fastest man on no legs,” ran in the individual 400 meter race at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea, where he was the first amputee competing in the race, but he bowed out at the semi-finals.

Pistorius did have the two fastest times of the year in his country this year, which helped clinch his individual spot for London 2012, which is set to begin on July 27.

Criticism and controversy has followed Pistorius for years. A 2008 IAAF ruling stated that his J-shaped blades — called the “Cheetah Flex-Foot” — give him an unfair advantage over other able-bodied racers. This was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who upheld his appeal of the IAAF’s decision.

Born with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs, Pistorius had both amputated when he was 11 years old. He has previously won medals at the Beijing and Athens Paralympics.

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