Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius mentally OK during shooting, panel says

Leave a comment

Oscar Pistorius did not suffer from a mental illness that could have affected his ability to distinguish right from wrong when he shot and killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a mental evaluation panel determined during a month and a half break in his murder trial.

The trial resumed in Pretoria, South Africa, on Monday, its first court session since May 14, when the judge ordered Pistorius be taken for mental tests at the request of the prosecution. A psychiatrist had testified Pistorius suffered from an anxiety disorder.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act on the early morning of Valentine’s Day 2013, according to the panel.

The athlete said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing girlfriend Steenkamp inside.

He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If found not guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

Last week, one of Pistorius’ lawyers said he expected the trial to last a couple more weeks.

The orthopedic surgeon who amputated Pistorius’ legs below the knees when he was 11 months old was one of two witnesses to testify Monday.

Dr. Gerald Versfeld, who said he still treats Pistorius, quoted the athlete talking about his difficulty moving without his prosthetic legs on. Pistorius has said he shot at who he thought was an intruder while on his stumps, feeling extremely vulnerable.

Pistorius is unable to stand still on his stumps and estimated he falls once every week or two weeks when not wearing his legs. The struggles are exacerbated in darkness, such as the circumstances the night of the shooting, he said.

“His ability of fleeing is severely impaired, and his ability to ward off danger is severely impaired on his stumps,” Versfeld said.

Lead prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned Versfeld’s objectivity, especially given Versfeld testified about his visit with Pistorius in May, after Pistorius testified during the trial.

Later, an acoustics expert testified after a 45-minute tea break and a 20-minute discussion about a missing extension cord from Pistorius’ bedroom.

Electrical engineer Ivan Lin said that screams from Pistorius’ bedroom or bathroom likely would not have been audible or intelligible from neighbors’ bedrooms 177m away. Earlier in the trial, neighbors from distances up to 177m away testified to hearing screams, some saying women’s screams, the night of the shooting.

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

Pistorius’ trial is expected to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

Ukraine city Lviv withdraws 2022 Winter Olympic bid

IPC president: Now is the right time to have Paralympics in Brazil

Paralympics
AP
Leave a comment

International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven said the upcoming Paralympic Games, which open in 100 days, could not be going to a better city than Rio de Janeiro.

“Many people might think that it’s not the time to go there now with the economic and political problems,” Craven said in a phone interview last week. “But is that not just the right time to be going, to just show what sport can truly do to mobilize and galvanize a people?”

And the Zika virus?

“We believe that the measures that have been communicated on a regular basis, reiterated to our member nations, will be effective, and the Zika virus will not have a major effect on the Games,” Craven said.

The Paralympics will visit South America for the first time in their 15th edition. The Rio Games, which run from Sept. 7-18, will have more broadcast coverage than ever and an expected record number of athletes and nations in the largest number of sports on a single Paralympic program.

NBC and NBCSN will air a record 66 hours of coverage of the Games. The USOC will provide live coverage at TeamUSA.org, too.

How the Paralympics will deal with the well-known issues facing Brazil will be largely impacted by how the preceding Olympics handle them.

But one issue unique to the Paralympics came to light four weeks ago.

A British Paralympic champion swimmer was disqualified from a European Championships event because his Olympic rings tattoo was not covered (he later competed at the meet with the tattoo covered).

An International Paralympic Committee swimming rule states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

The rule will cover all sports at the Rio Paralympics. Craven said he has not heard of any appeals by para-athletes to change the rule.

The IPC will take a “common-sense approach” to enforcing the rule in Rio to make sure there are no disqualifications by communicating thoroughly to national committees, Craven said.

“IPC has got very strict rules for the Paralympic Games and for other events prohibiting body advertisements, and this includes tattoos for commercial brands and non-IPC symbols, such as the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “These rules were emphasized, re-emphasized to all competing teams and swimmers at that particular event, and, similarly, we’ll be doing so prior to the Games in Rio.”

Some Paralympians identify themselves as Olympians, too — some have event competed in both Games — but Craven made the difference clear.

The 65-year-old, five-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball player likened Olympic rings tattoos at the Paralympics to an NFL player with an NBA team tattoo.

Craven added that there has been no pressure from the IOC regarding the rule and that he would expect a hypothetical Paralympian competing at the Olympics to cover up a tattoo of the Agitos, which is the Paralympic logo.

“We want Paralympic athletes to show pride in promoting the Paralympic movement, including our symbol, which is the Agitos, which is very different from the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “When you have a Paralympic athlete, a para-athlete sporting a branding from another event, then it just creates confusion. It creates confusion for the IPC. It creates confusion for the IOC.”

MORE: Paralympic champ long jumper still hopes to be allowed into Olympics

First four U.S. Olympic archers qualified; Khatuna Lorig waits

Khatuna Lorig
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The first four U.S. Olympic archers for Rio are known, while Khatuna Lorig will learn in three weeks if she makes her sixth Olympic team.

A full men’s team of 2012 Olympic team silver medalists Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski and first-time Olympian Zach Garrett earned their spots at the U.S. Olympic Trials that ended Monday.

Mackenzie Brown clinched her first Olympic berth by winning the women’s trials Monday.

The U.S. can send two more women to Rio if it qualifies a full team at a World Cup event in Turkey in three weeks. Those two women would be Hye Youn Park and Lorig.

Lorig, 42, is best known for teaching archery to Jennifer Lawrence before “The Hunger Games.” Lorig also competed in the 1992 Olympics for the Unified Team, the 1996 and 2000 Games for Georgia and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for the U.S.

Lorig earned team bronze at Barcelona 1992 and finished fifth and fourth individually at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team alternates are Daniel McLaughlin and La Nola Pritchard.

MORE: Full list of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team