Pistorius wants to resume training, say officials

CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA AND RAF CASERT
Last updated 07:26 26/02/2013
Oscar Pistorius in court
MURDER CHARGE: Oscar Pistorius reportedly wants to resume training while on bail.

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Oscar Pistorius has informed South African authorities that he wants to resume athletic training while on bail for the murder case against him, a government official said.

A spokeswoman for the Olympic runner, however, denied that he was making immediate plans to return to the track while awaiting trial for the February 14 shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

"Absolutely not," said spokeswoman Janine Hills. "He is currently in mourning and his focus is not on his sports."

The double-amputee Paralympian discussed bail terms with his probation officer and a correctional official at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court in the capital, Hills said. The guidelines will determine his daily routine until his next court appearance on June 4.

"It's his wish to continue to practice," James Smalberger, chief deputy commissioner of the department of correctional services, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Smalberger said the issue came up because authorities need to know his movements whenever he leaves the home where he is staying.

The timing of any resumption of training was uncertain.

Pistorius' longtime coach, Ampie Louw, declined to comment on any training plans for the runner, referring questions to a spokeswoman for the athlete's family.

Louw had said when the runner was in detention that he wanted to put him back into training in the event that he was granted bail. But he had also said Pistorius could be "heartbroken" and unwilling to immediately run again.

Pistorius, who has been released on bail, is staying at the house of his uncle, Arnold, in the affluent suburb of Waterkloof in Pretoria. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the killing of Steenkamp, in the early hours of Valentine's Day. Prosecutors say the pair had an argument before Steenkamp was killed; Pistorius says he mistook her for an intruder and shot her accidentally.

Smalberger said officials will visit Pistorius at his uncle's home at least four times a month, and that the runner indicated his interest in training again. More planning must occur before the start of any training.

"We want a training program from his coach so that we have backup for his movements," Smalberger said.

"He's not under house arrest, but his movements need to be known to us so that we don't pitch there and he's not there," he said. "We agree on 'free time' normally during the course of the day, and in the evening we expect him to be home."

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Pistorius' 2013 season had been geared towards the August 10-18 World Championships in Moscow, where the South African 4x400 relay team will be trying for another medal to add to the silver it won at the 2011 edition.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair had set bail at 1 million rand ($134,000). The 26-year-old track star was also ordered to hand over his passports, turn in any guns he owns and keep away from his upscale home in a gated community in Pretoria, the scene of the crime.

He cannot leave the district of Pretoria without his probation officer's permission and is not allowed to consume drugs or alcohol, the magistrate said.

- AP

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