Double amputee? Forget it, I’m just an athlete – Oscar I’m just an athlete

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Kevin McCallum

London

If you believe all the rumours and stories about Oscar Pistorius, he has Gummiberry Juice in his prosthetics, is dating a Russian supermodel and had two children with a German woman.

The facts and fiction surrounding Pistorius, who will become the first double-leg amputee to take part in an Olympic Games on Saturday are many: some true, some weird, some fickle, some disputed, some proven and some just plain fabrications. There is one constant, one truth that Oscar Pistorius lives by: “I’m first and foremost a 400-metre runner. I’m a South African athlete.”

On August 4, 11.20am South African time, he will become an Olympic athlete. If he is tiring of the questions as to whether he deserves to be here, then it did not show when he faced the world’s media yesterday. He embraced the questions, the same ones he has been asked a thousand times before with a sense of humour and a steady hand. In the stands to watch him compete at the Olympic Stadium will be his 89-year-old grandmother. If you want to know where Pistorius gets his level head from, then look no further than her.

“My grandmother will be out here. She’s 89. She’s cool,” said Pistorius. “She’s funny. I phoned her last week because a broadcaster wanted to do an interview with her. I said I wasn’t too sure if she wanted to do it. She’s quite old and has a pacemaker, but I called her and said, ‘Hey, Ouma, do you want to do this interview?’ She said: ‘I don’t mind. It’s up to you if you want me to’. So she said, ‘Ja, I’ll do it. It’s fine. They can come to my house.’ She was apparently ordering everyone around when they got there. Afterwards the journalist, a good friend of mine, told me my 95-year-old grandfather was hitting on her. I can’t wait for her to come out here.”

Pistorius moved into the Olympic Village a few days ago from the South African athletic team’s pre-Games camp in Twickenham. He has been working with the 4x400m team, and, now that he’s in the Village has been continuing to keep a close eye on his weight. He has lost 13kg since Beijing, transforming his body from muscle-bound sprinter to the more streamlined form of a 400m runner.

“The shape that I’ve got now, nothing is going to change before Saturday,” said Pistorius. “It’s been lots of speed work. The gym sessions have been shorter and more explosive. I’m watching my diet. Everything is broken down to a T, food is weighed, and worked out whether it be good for me.”

Pistorius said he was still upset about being dropped from the final of the 4x400m team at the World Championships last year. “The decision was made by the relay co-ordinator. I’ve said it many times. In my opinion the decision was very unprofessional. It wasn’t up to the athletes to choose the order we ran in. I was the quickest 400m athlete in the country and I was on form. I’d run my second-fastest heat ever in that competition. I’ll never understand the decision. Yes, I was bitter. I’ll always say it. And I think someone should be held accountable for it.

“There are six athletes here who can run in the relay. I have to listen to what the management say. We’ll give our input. I don’t know what leg I’ll run. The team has got great spirit. If you look at the team, last year people said we shouldn’t have made the final and we got a podium finish. We’re a tight group. Three of us have been training together for seven years. We run for each other, not just for ourselves.”

Pistorius would like to make the 400m semi-final and run better than fifth this time around, he said in reply to a question about his goals. The last question of the day went to a Russian journalist. She wanted to know about how his relationship with Anastassia Khozissova, the Russian supermodel, was going. He laughed.

“I don’t have a relationship with her. We met briefly in New York,” he said. “I don’t know who came up with the rumour that we are dating, but that’s not true.” One less myth, then.


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