Friday, April 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Pistorius as mysterious as the shooting tragedy

South Africa Pistorius Shooting

FILE - This is a Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 file photo of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius as he reacts after finishing first in a men's 400-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius was charged Thursday Feb. 14. 2013 with the murder of his girlfriend who was shot inside his home in South Africa, a stunning development in the life of a national hero known as the Blade Runner for his high-tech artificial legs. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

JOHANNESBURG — His head shrouded by a sports hoodie, the young man walked unnoticed through a bustling crowd outside the gates of the Olympic village in London last year. When he got close, I saw a familiar face smiling at me.

It was Oscar Pistorius. “Gerald!” he called and then raised both hands for a double high-five greeting followed by a hug.

On Feb. 14, I saw Pistorius in a hood again, and this time he stared straight at the ground, hands thrust into the pockets of a gray sports jacket. He was flanked by officers as he left a police station. Hours earlier, he’d been charged with killing his girlfriend.

It is hard to reconcile the easygoing, charismatic man I interviewed on several occasions with the man accused of premeditated murder in the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp in his South African home. Prosecutors painted him as a man prone to anger and violence, though he had no prior criminal record. The Olympian says he shot Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was a nighttime intruder, while prosecutors allege he intentionally shot her after the couple argued.

Who is Oscar Pistorius? I thought I had some idea, and in a sense, so did the millions around the world who cheered the double-amputee athlete as a symbol of determination over adversity.

Now he is as much of a mystery as whatever happened in his home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

My meeting with Pistorius in London was one of several in the three years I have been covering his remarkable story for The Associated Press, from South Africa to Italy to London — and last week to Courtroom C on the first floor of the red-bricked and gray-walled Pretoria Magistrate’s Court in the South African capital.

On reflection, Pistorius’ narrative is partly an exploration of how hard it is to truly know someone who lives so much in the public eye. Journalists witnessed or heard reports of occasional flashes of anger — with hindsight, do they loom as potentially more meaningful? At the time the outbursts passed largely unnoticed.

What I do know is that the public Pistorius seemed to have a soft spot.

Weeks before his debut at the Olympics, he stopped an interview with me to talk to a little girl who walked up to give him a strawberry from the gardens of the rural hotel at his training base in Gemona, in northern Italy.

“Oscar, Oscar,” the little girl said, holding out the berry. Behind her, a woman called the child away to stop her from bothering Pistorius.

“Ciao, baba. Grazie,” Pistorius replied with a smile, unfazed by the interruption, showing off his Italian and pretending to eat the strawberry.

“She brings me something to eat every night,” he told me delightedly, pointing up to the windows of his hotel room.

Now the world knows Pistorius owns a 9 mm Parabellum pistol, licensed for self-defense, and that he applied for licenses to own six more guns — listed for his private collection — weeks before the shooting death of Steenkamp.

His relationships with women have been spread over the gossip pages in South Africa.

We spoke about his running, his love of sneakers and nice clothes but also about his history with fast cars and motorbikes and the high-speed boat crash in 2009 that left him in a serious condition in the hospital with head wounds. He conceded that the crash caused him to rethink how he lived.

“I just realized that I need to make some changes and some of them need to be with my lifestyle,” Pistorius told me last year in that interview in northern Italy. “I was messing around a lot with motorbikes and just playing around and taking unnecessary risks.”

Again with hindsight, was he grappling with anything deeper than just the high spirits and penchant for thrills of many young men flushed with success and money to burn?

Covering Pistorius’ track career, he became more comfortable with me, remembering my name and shouting it when he would see me among a pack of journalists.

During his Olympic preparations in Italy, Pistorius pulled out his cellphone to show me pictures of his bleeding leg stumps, rubbed raw from the friction of pounding around the track on his blades.

It was around the time when people were again questioning whether he should be allowed to run in the 400 meters against able-bodied athletes. The message in showing these graphic photos was: Do you still think I have an unfair advantage?

Until that moment, I hadn’t fully realized what Pistorius went through every time he slipped on his prosthetic blades to compete or train. Not many people had, I guess.

It was rare for Pistorius to show images of his amputated limbs, but he grinned and shrugged. He said it was just part of the job.

It took a long time for him to get used to people filming and taking photographs of him putting on his carbon-fiber blades. He used to ask people not to film him without his prosthetics.

When he finished a race at the South African national championships last year, he quickly disappeared to a secluded part of the track to swap his blades for artificial legs, complete with sponsored sneakers that his agent was holding for him. It was his regular post-race routine. He then came bounding back to give me an interview.

He often apologized when he had to end an interview because he was running out of time. It always seemed people wanted more of his time than he could give. After we talked in London, Pistorius stayed a little longer to pose for photographs with Olympic security staff, even convincing one shy lady to get into one of the pictures.

Then he popped on his identity-concealing hood and, on his prosthetic legs, he walked off, anonymous in the crowd.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Concert master gets solo during Solano Symphony shows

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
So, where is that editor?

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B1

Suisun break ground on Walmart

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
District attorney candidates field questions at forum

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Open Studios May 3-4 in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
‘Tonight Show’ comic stops in Vallejo

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

The spy who went to Armijo High

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Cheating Daylight kicks off tour in hometown

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

Little Anthony joins line up at county fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

 
Notable Benicia homes, colorful gardens open for tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

Daily Republic seeks good news for column

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
Sutter’s thank-you to children gets top marks

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Suisun Marsh plan gets federal signoff

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police promote 3 from within

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Machete-attack case goes to jury

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Tickets on sale for Denim and Diamonds fundraiser

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Spring book sales at Vacaville, Vallejo libraries

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Children battle in Suisun – using book knowledge

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Library fundraiser ‘BrewHaha’ on tap May 3

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Brown reappoints Vacaville man to post

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

Community meeting on Fairfield crime set

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Friday, April 25, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Chicago doctor among those killed in Afghanistan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Water picture improves for some California towns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Study links California drought to global warming

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Gunman kills 3 Americans at Kabul hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Bill calls for enhanced lessons on Obama election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
100-year-old California woman gets diploma

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California bill attacks growing corporate wage gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
NRA seeks universal gun law at national meeting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Senate report criticizes former DHS watchdog

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Measles off to a fast start, as cases trend up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Nevada rancher defends remarks, loses supporters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Management, safety cited for radiation release

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Gaga over gorillas? 2 babies arrive at Bronx Zoo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Senate’s newest class speaks out on foreign policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tiny Pacific nation sues 9 nuclear-armed powers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Everest climbing season in disarray after deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Vatican: Pope’s private calls don’t reflect policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Families of ferry’s lost confront SKorea officials

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Israel halts peace talks with Palestinians

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Ukraine moves against insurgents in the east

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Costa Rica is demanding US explain ‘Cuban Twitter’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
FDA eases into regulating e-cigarettes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

FDA OKs first-ever DNA alternative to Pap smear

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Postal workers’ unions protest Staples program

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

11 kids, driver hurt in Calif. school bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

 
Editorial cartoons for April 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Some diet news is tough to digest

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
Has the militia movement re-emerged in American life?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
Easily swayed voters on both sides

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for April 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
How can I renew my friendship with Ellie without looking desperate?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview April 25-May 1, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Walker memorable in gritty ‘Mansions’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Review: ‘Quiet Ones’ is more creaky than creepy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Donaldson, Kazmir lead A’s past Astros 10-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Solano sweeps all-BVC softball postseason awards

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

Fishing: Bass Reapers to hold Berryessa tournament

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
Prep girls soccer: Vanden slips past AC for 3-2 SCAC victory

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
Prep baseball: Vanden’s LaGrand tosses shutout at Bethel

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
Clippers beat Warriors 98-96 for 2-1 series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

LA Kings avoid elimination in 6-3 win over Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
JC baseball: Solano’s late rally falls short in 6-5 loss to Marin

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Fairfield Expos announce schedule for 2014 season

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B8

 
Silver: Premature to say union will opt out of CBA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Cal Poly baseball team is toast of the West Coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Northwestern players to cast historic union vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Pineda banned 10 games for pine tar, won’t appeal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

4Runner keeps rugged charm

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Audi’s RS 7 is answer to Porsche, Mercedes

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C2

US proposes pay-for-priority Internet standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Google, Apple settle high-tech workers’ lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Amazon launches grocery service for Prime members

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jean Sophia Ruckdeschel

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Judith Catherine Brooks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9