Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius indicted on murder charge, trial set to start March 3

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Oscar Pistorius reportedly wept and prayed before being handed a copy of his indictment on a charge of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at a Pretoria court Monday morning.

Pistorius’ trial will run from March 3-20, the court announced.

Pistorius shot and killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day morning in his Pretoria home. If convicted of premeditated murder, he faces a life sentence with at least 25 years in prison.

The defense said Pistorius thought Steenkamp was an intruder locked behind a bathroom door. The state will argue Steenkamp was hiding behind the bathroom door, fearing for her life, during the trial, City Press in South Africa reported Sunday.

The indictment (linked here) included 107 witnesses that the state could call on, including at least one of Pistorius’ ex-girlfriends, according to reports from the Pretoria courtroom. Some of the witnesses heard a woman scream, then gunshots, then more screaming, the indictment read, according to reports.

Steenkamp would have turned 30 years old Monday.

South African outlet News24 compiled a photo gallery of Pistorius’ appearance. He did not say much during the 12-minute proceedings after nearly an hour delay.

A report out of South Africa last week said Pistorius would face additional charges of recklessly discharging a gun in public in separate incidents, but those charges were not included in the indictment. The second charge in the indictment was the possession of illegal ammunition.

It was reported over the weekend that Pistorius told detectives how to access his iPhone but can’t remember a password to access his WhatsApp messages, according to the Star in South Africa.

“After months of SDHp pressing him he ­remembered the password to his iPhone 5 but we haven’t been in a position to open all his messages from the night of the shooting and the days before that,” a senior source at South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said, according to the Star.

The media attention on Pistorius has remained high in South Africa. He was recently spotted on a kayak, and that photo made the front page of the country’s leading Afrikaans-language newspaper.

In 2012, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran the 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay.

The World Track and Field Championships went on without Pistorius in Moscow last week. Olympic champion Kirani James, who exchanged nametags with Pistorius at the London Games, told The Associated Press he plans to frame the nametag.

“For him not to be here, it’s something the sport is missing,” James said, according to the AP.

Russian women’s sprinters cause stir with kiss

Italian curler roars after hitting shot to qualify for Olympics (video)

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Forgive Amos Mosaner for shouting, for he clinched Italy’s first Olympic curling qualification.

Mosaner’s double takeout in an extra end put Italy past Denmark 6-5 in the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

He rushed down the ice after that last stone, tossed his broom aside, pumped his fist and roared into a group hug with teammates.

Skip Joël Retornaz returns to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. He skipped Italy’s team at the 2006 Olympics, where they earned an automatic berth as host nation.

“This has such a different taste,” the 34-year-old Retornaz said, according to World Curling. “Earning the right on the ice feels great. It feels like a dream for me.”

Denmark later did make the Olympic field as the last nation, beating the Czechs for the spot.

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The Pyeongchang Olympic curling fields:

Men
Canada
Sweden
U.S.
Japan
Switzerland
Great Britain
Norway
Italy
Denmark
South Korea

Women
Canada
Russia
Switzerland
Great Britain
U.S.
Sweden
Japan
China
Denmark
South Korea

Mixed Doubles
China
Canada
Russia
U.S.
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
South Korea

Russia says its athletes want to compete at Pyeongchang Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams.

Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past.

That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speed skating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village?

Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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