Oscar Pistorius: The ‘broke and broken’ Olympian

Updated 24 November 2017

Oscar Pistorius: The ‘broke and broken’ Olympian

JOHANNESBURG: At the 2012 London Olympics, before 80,000 roaring fans and a constellation of camera flashes, it took Oscar Pistorius 45.44 seconds to become a global icon.
The South African’s sprint around the 400m track was the first time in history that a double-amputee had raced at the Olympic Games.
The race capped an Olympian triumph over adversity for Pistorius. His journey from disabled child to world-class athlete seemed to embody the very best of sporting endeavour and the human spirit.
Then on Valentine’s Day in 2013 his achievements were just as quickly demolished.
In the early hours of the morning at his upmarket Pretoria home, he shot and killed his 29-year-old model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, later saying he believed her to be an intruder.
At his trial in 2014, he sat for months in a windowless courtroom, and watched as his world was washed away.
His sparkling career was cut short, sponsors dumped him and he was forced to sell his homes in the face of mounting legal bills.
His conviction for manslaughter put him in jail for a year but his crime was upgraded to murder on appeal and in July, 2016 he was sentenced to six years, less than half the minimum term of 15 years for the charge.
The athlete had sobbed, shaken and vomited in the dock as details of his lover’s brutal death were examined in excruciating detail during his trial while the eyes of the world were transfixed.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein more than doubled that jail term to 13 years and five months after the state appealed that it was unduly lenient.
Prosecutors had argued earlier this month that Pistorius failed to show genuine remorse over the killing.
The “Blade Runner” — an epithet earned for his trademark prosthetic legs that powered him to fame as a Paralympic gold medallist — became the “Blade Gunner.”
“He’s not only broke, but he is broken, there is nothing left,” lawyer Barry Roux told his sentencing hearing last year.
Time and again during his trial, the court was told about “two Oscars” — one a hero, the other a victim.
But the high-profile proceedings also exposed the 29-year-old’s darker side: offering glimpses of a dangerously volatile man with a penchant for guns, beautiful women and fast cars.
In 2009, he spent a night in jail after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a party in a case that was settled out of court.
Two years later, he was accused of firing a gun through the sunroof of an ex-girlfriend’s moving car, although a court found there was not enough evidence to convict him on that charge.
Weeks before he shot Steenkamp, he discharged a gun by accident at a Johannesburg restaurant.
“Oscar is certainly not what people think he is,” ex-lover and trial witness Samantha Taylor has said.
Pistorius has long been open about his love for guns. The sprinter slept with a pistol under his bed at his home in a high-security estate for fear of burglars.
Once held in Amsterdam after gunpowder residue was detected on his prosthetics, he also took a New York Times journalist interviewing him to a shooting range.
The writer described him driving at 250 kilometers an hour, double the speed limit, and referred to Pistorius as having “a fierce, even frenzied need to take on the world at maximum speed and with minimum caution.”
His passion for motorbikes, adrenaline and speed is well documented. “He likes fast cars. He is just built for speed,” his trainer Jannie Brooks said.
He also crashed his boat on a river, breaking two ribs, an eye socket and his jaw. Empty alcohol bottles were found in the boat.
He once owned two white tigers but sold them to a zoo in Canada when they became too big.
Born in 1986 in Johannesburg without fibulas (calf bones), his parents decided when he was 11 months old to have his legs amputated below the knee so he could be fitted with prosthetic legs.
This allowed him to play sports while growing up. He excelled in many, concentrating on running only after fracturing a knee playing rugby.
“It was never made an issue. My mother would say to my brother, ‘You put on your shoes, and Oscar, you put on your legs, then meet me at the car,’” Pistorius said in a 2011 interview.
A middle child whose parents divorced when he was six, he has a problematic relationship with his father Henke, but is close to his siblings who were at his side in court.
His mother died when he was 15 and the date of her death is tattooed on his arm.
In 2004, just eight months after taking to the track, he smashed the 200m world record at the Athens Paralympics.
Next up was the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games where he took the 100m, 200m and 400m sprint titles and launched a battle to take part in able-bodied athletics, overcoming arguments that his custom-built carbon-fiber running blades gave him an unfair advantage.
In 2011 he made history by becoming the first amputee to run at the World Championships, where he took silver with South Africa’s 4x400m sprint team.
“You’re not disabled by your disabilities but abled by your abilities,” he told Athlete magazine in an interview that year.
In 2012 he again made history by becoming the first double-amputee to compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics.
“He is the definition of global inspiration,” Time magazine proclaimed in its 2012 list of the world’s most influential people.
Less than a year later, Pistorius featured on the cover with the words “Man,
Superman, Gunman.”


Sharjah rookie grabs dramatic win as Team Abu Dhabi get top 10 finish

Updated 03 March 2024

Sharjah rookie grabs dramatic win as Team Abu Dhabi get top 10 finish

  • Rusty Wyatt makes perfect start at Grand Prix of Indonesia, the opening race of the 2024 UIM F1H2O World Championship

ABU DHABI: Sharjah rookie Rusty Wyatt recorded a dramatic victory in the Grand Prix of Indonesia today as Team Abu Dhabi battled through a tough start to the 2024 UIM F1H2O World Championship.

Reigning world champion Jonas Andersson looked poised for a record fifth race win in a row but dropped to third place as Wyatt and Victory Team’s Erik Stark both passed him in a sensational finish.

Making his Team Abu Dhabi debut and starting down the field after a broken engine in qualifying, Alberto Comparato climbed seven places on the day to finish inside the top 10.

The young Italian will now be aiming for a big improvement on his ninth place when the second round at the end of this month introduces Vietnam as the latest new championship venue.

His Abu Dhabi teammate, Thani Al-Qemzi, will equally be looking for a change in fortunes next time out. Starting his 153rd Grand Prix in ninth spot following a disappointing qualifying run, the veteran Emirati driver reached the finish in seventh place. He later collected a one-lap penalty for a start infringement and dropped to 12th.

After a false start caused by a technical issue, Stark looked to have grabbed an important advantage over Andersson as he squeezed past his fellow Swede on the first lap before the race was halted when Ferdinand Zandbergen crashed out.

Andersson regained control from the re-start and shrugged off several attacks by Stark before the final lap saw them tussling for the win down the last straight, both boats slowing with technical issues.

As the Victory driver squeezed ahead, Wyatt powered his way through on the outside right at the finish to become the first rookie to win a Grand Prix. Sharjah’s Canadian driver takes an immediate lead in the championship from Stark, and Al-Qemzi and Comparato will be determined to ensure that the UAE has three teams challenging for honors as the season progresses.

Team Abu Dhabi have secured 17 world championship titles since Guido Cappellini took over as team manager in 2015, and the Italian racing legend is determined to deliver more success to Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club.

His meticulous planning and attention to detail will be aimed at giving Al-Qemzi and Comparato a significant boost to see them challenging for podium places in Vietnam.

Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18

Updated 03 March 2024

Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18

  • Green completed a hat trick of birdies over the closing holes to snatch victory when her snaking putt on the 18th green curled into the cup to a huge ovation
  • It was the Australian’s first win in Asia and also eased the heartbreak of finishing second in Singapore three years ago

SINGAPORE: Australia’s Hannah Green drained a remarkable 30-foot birdie putt at the final hole to edge Celine Boutier of France and win the HSBC Women’s World Championship by a stroke in Singapore on Sunday.

The US LPGA Tour’s flagship event in Asia had looked like it was heading for a playoff after Boutier’s 5-under 67 put her in the clubhouse at 12-under par and for Green to draw level with birdies at the 16th and 17th.

But the Australian completed a hat trick of birdies over the closing holes to snatch victory when her snaking putt on the 18th green curled into the cup to a huge ovation.

“I knew I needed to at least birdie the last to win by one,” said world No. 29 Green, who was drenched in champagne by her fellow Australian competitors in celebration after finishing the tournament on 13-under 275.

“As soon as that putt went in, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve won!’,” said the 27-year-old, who lifted her fourth LPGA Tour title.

“You have to take these highs when they come because it doesn’t always come and golf can be a learning sport sometimes.

“Celine played great today but she didn’t end up with the trophy in her hands. But she should still be proud of how she performed under this pressure,” said Green.

It was the Australian’s first win in Asia and also eased the heartbreak of finishing second in Singapore three years ago.

“I almost won the championship in 2021 when I was playing it for the first time,” said Green.

“I remembered I three-putted 17 and then three-putted again on 18 to lose. It feels great to have this trophy in my hands now.”

Playing in the group ahead of Green on the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club, Boutier was unable to make a birdie over her closing holes to put pressure on the Australian and missed a great chance on 17.

“I knew my putt (on 17) was going to be important but it ended up being short-sided. It was frustrating,” said world No. 3 Boutier.

“I gave myself chances. I made some putts and also missed some. But such things happen and I can’t be too mad about my round today.”

Ko Jin-young of South Korea, who was defending her 2022 and 2023 titles, briefly threatened to get into the mix when she drained a monster 90-foot birdie putt at the 11th.

But two bogeys followed and her 1-under 71 saw her finish six shots behind Green on 7-under 281.

Japan’s Ayaka Furue took a two-shot lead into the final round Sunday but had a day to forget, completing a 3-over card of 75 with a scruffy double bogey at the 18th to finish six behind playing partner Green.

World No. 1 Lilia Vu, who started the day five shots back of the lead, withdrew during her final round because of illness.

Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm

Updated 03 March 2024

Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm

  • Holloway made no mistake in the 60m hurdles, an event in which he has remarkably not lost since he was 16, stretching over 74 races
  • Bol once again stole the show, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion bettering her own world indoor record to 49.17 seconds to win the 400m

GLASGOW: Record-setting Femke Bol proved unstoppable and Grant Holloway extended his 10-year win streak at a high-octane second day of the world indoor championships in Glasgow on Saturday that also featured double British gold.

Bol once again stole the show, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion bettering her own world indoor record to 49.17 seconds to win the 400m, leading from gun to tape in an exceptional display of running.

“It was amazing. It was such a strong race. I knew I had to go out fast,” said the Dutch athlete after sending a warning to potential rivals at this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm, like Bol an elite hurdler seeking a pre-Paris Games workout over the 400m flat, was undone by hard-charging Belgian Alexander Doom.

But the Norwegian, the world record holder, three-time outdoor champion and Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles, was not too upset by the result.

“All in all, it’s an acceptable time, so it’s OK,” he said. “It was a last-minute decision to come here. Of course, I wish I had won today but it was so nice coming out here and performing in front of all that noise.”

Holloway made no mistake in the 60m hurdles, an event in which he has remarkably not lost since he was 16, stretching over 74 races.

He matched his own championship record of 7.29sec for a totally dominant victory.

“The streak is for you guys, I come out here and get to the finish line before everyone else!” said Holloway, the three-time 110m hurdles world champion.

There was a particularly British, and notably Scottish, tang to the evening session, with Molly Caudrey, Josh Kerr and Laura Muir guaranteeing a raucous home welcome at a packed-out Emirates Arena.

Caudrey and Kerr came good, winning the women’s pole vault and men’s 3000m to help set the stage for a thrilling night of track and field.

It climaxed with Saint Lucia’s Julien Alfred reeling in fast-starting Pole Ewa Swoboda for gold in the women’s 60m.

Alfred clocked 6.98sec, two-hundredths ahead of Swoboda, with Italy’s Zaynab Dosso taking bronze (7.05).

“Losing last season at the world championships and coming that close to a medal in both the 100m and the 200m, gave me a boost,” said Alfred.

“I was very hungry coming to the next season.”

There was a shock in the women’s 3000m as American Elle St. Pierre dug deep to outsprint massive Ethiopian favorite Gudaf Tsegay down the home stretch for victory in 8min 20.87sec to shatter, by 13sec, the championship record set by Dutchwoman Elly Van Hulst in Budapest in 1989.

“It was a hard pace from the beginning, I knew it was a very competitive field,” said St. Pierre, who won silver at the last world indoors in Belgrade in 2022 and gave birth to her first child just a year ago.

Tsegay, a global medal winner over multiple distances and 5,000m world record holder, accelerated away with two laps to go, taking Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech and St. Pierre with her, not thinking that the latter had the legs to outdo her for gold.

While Muir had to be happy with fifth, world outdoor 1500m champion Kerr timed his run to perfection to win the men’s 3000m in 7:42.98, with American Yared Nuguse taking silver and Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega bronze.

Barega and teammate Getnet Wale took turns to put in surges to split the field, Kerr bided his time and sprang into action as the bell rang for the final lap, outstripping Barega down the far straight before sprinting clear.

“I didn’t want to shortchange anyone,” said Kerr, draped in the Saltire flag. “It was a hard-fought race, up and down like we expected.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t emotional out there. Keep a cool head and send it with 400m to go. I win every 50-50 I’m in.”

In the field, Caudery sealed Britain’s second gold of the night when she held off New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney to win the pole vault with a best of 4.80m.

The competition was held up for several minutes after France’s Margot Chevrier tumbled off the mat and had to be stretchered off.

Chevrier said on Instagram later that she had fractured her ankle and would have surgery in Glasgow on Sunday followed by another operation after she returns to France.

“It will take what it takes,” she said. “Paris 2024, I will be there.”

Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango won the men’s triple jump with a best of 17.53m on his fifth attempt ahead of Yasser Mohamma Triki of Algeria (17.35m) and Portugal’s Tiago Pereira (17.08).

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

Updated 03 March 2024

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

  • French No. 5 seed dispatches 7th seeded Kazakh 6-4, 6-3 to win 6th career title
  • Tallon Griekspoor, Jan-Lennard Struff claim men’s doubles title with 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 victory over Ivan Dodig, Austin Krajicek

Dubai: Ugo Humbert produced a ruthless masterclass to defeat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in straight sets and seal ATP 500 victory in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The French No. 5 seed, who rose to a career-high world No. 14 after his heroics in Dubai, made it a clean sweep of six titles in six ATP finals with a clinical 6-4, 6-3 dismantling of No. 7 seed Bublik, the world No. 19, in front of a capacity Center Court crowd at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Humbert, who defeated compatriot Gael Monfils, Britain’s Andy Murray, world No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz, and world No. 4 Daniil Medvedev to reach the final, unleashed his full repertoire of booming forehands and laser-like double-handed backhands to eclipse Bublik, who progressed past 2022 Dubai champion Andrey Rublev in a dramatic semi-final, which saw the No. 2 seed disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After tight opening exchanges where the pair were evenly matched, the final stayed on-serve until the 10th game when Humbert, who had failed to convert break points in Bublik’s two previous service games, finally broke the Kazakh’s resistance to clinch the first set 6-4.

With Bublik delighting the Dubai crowd with a combination of whipped forehands and a deft array of dropshots, Humbert, relaxed and controlled, raced into a 3-1 second set lead after breaking Bublik. From there, the 25-year-old left-hander relied on his own dominant serve – unbroken throughout the final – to close out the match on his second championship point.

Humbert, who claimed the winner’s prize of $550,140, said: “I played a fantastic level all through the week, but it was not easy. I really don’t know how I stayed calm.

“I have too much respect for (Bublik), he’s such a nice guy on and off the court, and congratulations to him on a great start to the year.”

Bublik said: “This week has had almost everything for me, and I can’t wait to come back here again in 2025.

“Before the final, I thought if I won, I would dedicate it to my son, but sorry, maybe next time,” the 26-year-old, who bagged the runner-up prize of $296,000, added.

In the men’s doubles final, the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff narrowly defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and the US’ Austin Krajicek 6-4, 4-6, 10-6.

With a pair of service breaks enough to settle the opening two sets, Griekspoor and Struff came from 1-3 down in the deciding super tiebreak, winning nine of the last 12 points to claim a maiden Dubai title and a share of the $180,700 prize pool. Beaten finalists Dodig and Krajicek split a runners-up purse of $96,370.

After the match, Griekspoor said: “It’s the first time we’ve played together, so maybe we should keep it one week. We played really well and had a great time; it was a lot of fun on court. I had such a pleasure on court this week.”

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “This magical evening has provided a fitting end to a memorable Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships fortnight. We have seen crowds of over 45,000-plus revel in match after match of wonderful tennis during the men’s ATP 500 week.

“Our congratulations go to the 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winners, men’s singles champion, Ugo Humbert, and our doubles champions, Tallon Griekspoor and Jan-Lennard Struff – all truly worthy winners.

Ramesh Cidambi, chief operating officer of Dubai Duty Free and chairman of the tournament organizing committee, said: “This year’s ATP 500 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has, once again, exceeded our expectations with a week of scintillating tennis, unbelievable moments on and off court, and enthusiastic grandstands.

“Thank you to all the players, officials, and fans who have contributed to the runaway success of the 32nd Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in 12 months’ time.”

Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion

Updated 03 March 2024

Aussie Alex de Minaur repeats as ATP Acapulco champion

  • The 25-year-old from Sydney captured his eighth career ATP title after dropping four straight finals since downing American Tommy Paul in last year’s final, the most recent last month at Rotterdam

MEXICO CITY: Australia’s Alex de Minaur won his second consecutive ATP Mexican Open title on Saturday, defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 in the final at Acapulco.

The 25-year-old from Sydney captured his eighth career ATP title after dropping four straight finals since downing American Tommy Paul in last year’s final, the most recent last month at Rotterdam.

World No. 9 de Minaur, a two-time winner also at Atlanta, dispatched 11th-ranked Ruud after one hour and 57 minutes, improving to 2-0 against his European foe after winning their only prior meeting at the 2019 ATP NextGen Finals.

Ruud, a two-time French Open runner-up and the 2022 US Open runner-up, missed out on his 11th ATP title for the second week in a row after dropping last week’s final at Los Cabos to another Aussie, Jordan Thompson.

Ruud’s most recent ATP crown came last April at Estoril.

The players exchanged praise after the match, Ruud telling de Minaur: “Fantastic playing all week. Too good today. Seems like you are enjoying Acapulco quite well. You did a great job.”

De Minaur replied, “Great stuff. It was hard work. Thank you for a great match.”