Low-key track runs for Pistorius' self-esteem

GERALD IMRAY
Last updated 22:14 28/06/2013
Oscar Pistorius
Reuters
NOT RUNNING: Athlete Oscar Pistorius, who is charged with murdering his girlfriend, will not compete in any events this year.

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Oscar Pistorius returned to light training and was overcome with emotion as he pulled on his carbon fibre blades for a session at his usual practice facility today, his agent told The Associated Press.

Agent Peet van Zyl said today he was contacted about a week ago by Pistorius, who expressed a desire to return to a regular track routine for the first time since the February 14 shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

"I think it's huge for him," said Van Zyl, who went with Pistorius to the University of Pretoria for the session. "He was overcome with emotion when he put on his blades."

Van Zyl said there were still no plans for Pistorius to run competitively and his return to the track involved light runs that would help give his life a routine as he awaits trial for the killing of Steenkamp.

Describing the experience as bitter sweet, Van Zyl went to the track with Pistorius while his regular coach Ampie Louw is away on holiday.

In television footage of the session released by Pistorius' family, the double-amputee Olympian is seen in a blue-hooded sports top pulling on his blades while sitting on a chair on a sunbathed track.

A bearded Pistorius does some light jogging in his blades, and then wipes his face with both hands as he walks off the track.

"The actual word he used to me was bittersweet," Van Zyl said of Pistorius' training. "He can't be happy because of what's happened."

Pistorius' next court appearance is on August 19, when prosecutors may indict him and a date could be set for the start of his murder trial, possibly in September or October.

Pistorius denies murder in Steenkamp's killing, saying he shot her accidentally in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day because he thought she was an intruder in his bathroom.

The 26-year-old Pistorius faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted of premeditated murder.

In a statement on Pistorius' website, his family confirmed he decided to resume running for a few hours a week for his own mental process.

It was "not aimed at preparing for competition", they said.

Pistorius has said he will not run competitively for the rest of 2013 while he faces a likely lengthy trial, but will run regularly on the track while his court case continues.

"His focus at this time remains entirely on the court case," the family said in the statement.

"His family and those close to him have encouraged him to spend a few hours a week on the track to assist him in finding the necessary mental and emotional equilibrium to process his trauma and prepare for the trial."

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"It's just to get him running again," Van Zyl said.

- AP

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