The Union Recorder

Local Sports

February 25, 2013

Pistorius as mysterious as the shooting tragedy

(Continued)

JOHANNESBURG —

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."

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