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

Ragan Smith delivers in first U.S. championship title win

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ragan Smith embraced the role of heavy favorite coming into the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her career, the 17-year-old hardly appeared intimidated by the stage. Smith pulled away from the field to claim her first national title Sunday, posting a score of 115.250, more than three points clear of Jordan Chiles in second place and Riley McCusker in third.

Smith opened up a 1.3-point lead over McCusker in the opening round Friday but admitted afterward she wasn’t particularly impressed by her own performance. She was considerably sharper less than 48 hours later, her 57.850 total in the finals was the best in the 16-woman all-around field by nearly two points.

Smith is one of the few holdovers from the 2016 Olympic cycle, serving as an alternate for the “Final Five” team that won half of the available medals in Rio de Janeiro last fall. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez are taking breaks or have moved on, leaving Smith as the standard bearer for new national team coordinator Valeri Liukin.

The program appears to be in solid hands. Smith ditched “The Addams Family” themed floor routine she used last year for something a little more mature. It’s not the only part of her gymnastics that has grown up. Smith finished first on floor and beam and tied for third on bars.

Smith will be in the mix for the all-around title at the world championships in Montreal, where she’ll have a chance to extend the U.S.’s dominance. An American woman has won the world or Olympic title each of the last six years. Barring injury, Smith should be right there.

Liukin said he wasn’t alarmed following an uneven performance by the field in preliminaries, calling it a positive step for a group lacking in experience. The gymnastics were markedly improved in the finals.

Chiles slipped by McCusker into second thanks to a fabulous save on beam in which she turned a near disaster into something decidedly artful.

Chiles was in the middle of “wolf turn” (basically spinning on one foot while in a crouch on a 4-inch wide piece of wood) when she nearly fell over. Instead she rose to her feet, kept rotating, and went right into the next part of her routine as if it was planned all along.

Chiles’ steadiness gives Liukin another option as he tries to put together the rest of the four-woman team that will join Smith in Montreal. McCusker, only recently recovered from foot and wrist injuries, tried to keep the heat on Smith but stepped out of bounds following the last tumbling pass on her floor routine. McCusker finished first on bars — her legs practically magnetized together as she went from bar to bar — to win the event with ease.

Ashton Locklear, like Smith an alternate last summer, wound up second on bars with a watered down routine as he makes her way back from her own injury issues and should have time to install upgrades before Montreal.

Whoever heads to Canada in October will go with the usual expectations for what has become the sport’s most dominant program.

MORE: Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles has competed in the six previous U.S. National Championships, winning the last four, but in Anaheim this year, she’s watching from the sidelines. Biles won four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor) and one bronze (on beam) last summer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This week she revealed she has returned to the gym to prepare for a yet to be determined event, in her return to competition.

When asked how she’s been doing in the gym by NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce, Biles responded with her signature smile accompanied by an endearingly bashful eye roll, “the beginning is…OK.”

MORE: Danell Leyva on why he’s retiring

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