International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven admitted the Movement is in a state of “shock and disbelief” following Oscar Pistorius’ alleged murder of his girlfriend but that the tragic incident will not stop the positive momentum for disability sport created by London 2012.
The 26-year-old six-time Paralympian is currently on trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day, although he denied the charge at Pretoria Magistrates’ Court today.
The incident itself has sent shockwaves through the world of sport but Sir Philip, the most powerful man in the Paralympic Movement, says it will not stop the progress made by disability sport on the back of the Games last summer.
“I think the feeling of the entire Paralympic Movement right now is one of complete shock and disbelief,” Sir Philip told insidethegames.
“Those are certainly my feelings.
“My immediate thoughts were to convey my sincere condolences to Reeva Steenkamp and her family.
“As the President of the IPC, it was my duty to write to all members of the IPC about this but it took me few days to find the words to say.
“Having had time, I have written saying that despite the tragic incident, we will move forward and we need to make the differentiation between what happened there in South Africa are what we’re about as a Movement.
“This is obviously a very tragic incident for the Paralympic Movement but it will not stop us building on the momentum created by the London 2012 Paralympics.
“We saw at London 2012 all the new, young stars coming through with people like Alan Oliveira and Jonnie Peacock.
“They are the future of the Movement, and the Movement has never ever been about just one athlete; it is much, much bigger than that.
“So we will continue to build and move on and differentiate this tragedy away from the Paralympic Movement and what will happen in Sochi 2014 and in Rio 2016.”
As an emotional Pistorius returned to court today, sobbing throughout the majority of the hearing, a statement from the athlete was read out by his defense lawyer Barry Roux in which he says he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.
“I thought Reeva was in the bed,” said the statement, in which Pistorius explained he thought an intruder was in the bathroom.
“I felt extremely vulnerable but I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself.
“I’m absolutely mortified at the death of my beloved Reeva.”
Earlier in the hearing, prosecutors claimed Pistorius got up from bed, put on his prosthetic legs and walked seven meters before shooting Steenkamp through a closed bathroom door.
But Pistorius claims he shot at the door on his stumps while he thought Steenkamp was in bed, feeling vulnerable without his prosthetics, before the putting on his prosthetic legs and using a cricket bat to break open the bathroom door and finding his 29-year-old girlfriend.
He found Steenkamp was alive, slumped over in the toilet, and called the paramedics before she died in his arms.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the details showed it was a premeditated murder.
“If I arm myself, walk a distance and murder a person, that is premeditated,” said Nel.
“The door is closed, there is no doubt.
“I walk seven meters and I kill.
“The motive is ‘I want to kill’, that’s it.”
At around midday, Magistrate Desmond Nair said that the case would be adjourned until tomorrow, with Pistorius to be held again overnight at Brooklyn police station.
His defense team will continue to fight for him to be released on bail when the case resumes.
Meanwhile, the private funeral for Steenkamp was held in her home town of Port Elizabeth as the trial went on in Pretoria.
Her father, Barry Steenkamp, told reporters: “We have to keep Reeva in our hearts forever.”
Sponsors have now begun to drop Pistorius, despite his agent Peet Van Zyl insisting that they would stick with him during the legal process.
Nike, Oakley and Thierry Mugler have now all distanced themselves by removing all campaigns featuring Pistorius.
Nike said they had no plans to use him in future campaigns with Oakley suspending their contract with Pistorius and Thierry Mugler removing the South African from their campaigns “out of respect and sympathy to the families involved in this tragic case”.
BT, with whom Pistorius has been involved as a brand ambassador, have not yet cut ties with the athlete as they said in a short statement: “Given the on-going situation we have nothing further to say at this time.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com. Inside the Games is an online blog of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 London Olympics. Its editors continue to cover the world of Olympic sports. This article is reprinted here with permission from the editors.