Paralympics head won’t promote Pistorius’ return
As Oscar Pistorius awaits sentencing for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp, it’s uncertain if the fallen sports icon will ever race again. What’s clearer is that the Paralympic leadership will not be encouraging any comeback by the double amputee sprinter.
Next month, the judge in South Africa could hand Pistorius anything from a suspended sentence and a fine to as much as 15 years in prison. Should Pistorius subsequently be in a position to compete, the International Paralympic Committee would be powerless to stop ”Blade Runner” returning to the track if he achieves a qualifying time.
”If that athlete was entered and had gained the qualification we would not be a legal situation where we could deny that athlete the right to compete,” IPC President Philip Craven told The Associated Press.
But he added: ”There has never been any intention to promote any reinstatement of any sort.”
The Pistorius case has presented Craven with some of the most challenging moments of his 13-year tenure. For so long, Pistorius was the poster boy of the Paralympic movement, generating huge interest around the 2012 London Games when the South African known as the ”Blade Runner” became the first double-amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics.
He then ran at the Paralympics, winning gold in the 400 meters and the 4×100 relay.
But on Valentine’s Day in 2013, Pistorius opened fire in his home after hearing what he said sounded like an intruder in a bathroom in the middle of the night, killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
”I was in a state of shock for two days then we realized we had to come out of that rapidly,” Craven said. ”Of course he was a great athlete but what took place 18 months ago was not anything to do with sport … but it’s an absolute tragedy.”
On Monday, the IPC marks the 25th anniversary of its formation, although the Paralympics first took place in 1960.
Craven said the movement is not reliant on the star power of one athlete.
”There are so many great Paralympians who can promote the movement,” Craven said. ”There are so many athletes doing brilliantly now we are not dependent, although we never thought we were on one athlete.”
Other sprint stars have emerged, such as Alan Oliveira, who upset Pistorius by winning the 200-meter race at the London Paralympics. The Brazilian will likely be competing in front of his home crowd when the games go to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Whether Pistorius will be competing there will become clearer next month.