Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius’ cross-examination ends at murder trial

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The chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius‘ murder trial ended five days of cross-examining the runner Tuesday, saying Pistorius knowingly fatally shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp after they had an argument on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Pistorius, who has said he shot through a door thinking an intruder was behind it, called it a “hypothetical” argument.

“Your version is not only untruthful, it’s so improbable that it cannot be reasonably true,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said, drawing an “I don’t agree” response from Pistorius. “You armed yourself with the sole purpose of shooting and killing her.

“Afterwards, you were overcome by what you’ve done. … Only because it was your intention to kill her.”

Those final comments from Nel with Pistorius in the witness box were subdued compared to his most stinging questions in the Pretoria court room on the 23rd day of the trial.

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If not found guilty of premeditated murder, he could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

“Who should we blame for the Black Talon [bullet] rounds that ripped through her body?” Nel asked, drawing Judge Thokozile Masipa to intervene, saying it was a rephrasing of previous questions.

Pistorius recounted his actions from last year after he shot four times through a locked bathroom door, hitting Steenkamp inside.

He said he bashed open the door with a cricket bat, crouched over Steenkamp seated on the floor and checked to see if she was breathing. Pistorius felt that she wasn’t at first, but then he said he heard her breathing.

“I was talking to her all the time, saying baby please hold on,” Pistorius said. “Jesus, please help me. I was praying for her.”

He tried to but couldn’t pick her up, so he moved her outside of the toilet room and into the outer bathroom. He grabbed her phone from inside the toilet room but didn’t know the passcode to access it. So he ran into his bedroom, took his phone and called for help.

Pistorius said he screamed while trying to break into the bathroom but was questioned by Nel as to why he stopped yelling out when he saw it was Steenkamp behind the door.

“I was broken,” Pistorius said. “I was overcome by sadness. So I wouldn’t have screamed out.”

In brief re-examination, defense attorney Barry Roux had Pistorius read the Valentine’s Day card that Steenkamp made for him that Pistorius did not open until Aug. 19, Steenkamp’s 30th birthday.

“Roses are red, violets are blue,” Pistorius said it read on one side. “I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you.”

Later, forensic expert Roger Dixon testified, with the aid of photos, of how dark Pistorius’ room was, about damage to the toilet door and wounds to Steenkamp’s back and butt. Pistorius covered his eyes and ears while Dixon talked about Steenkamp’s wounds.

Nel asked for a trial break until May 5, still expecting to fit it in the window deadline of May 16. Masipa said she would rule on that Wednesday.

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

One runner dies, another goes missing, found after London Marathon

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal rekindle record bids at French Open

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Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will play on the same day at the French Open through the quarterfinals, assuming each advances that far and the weather doesn’t wreak havoc. Each time they walk on the crushed red clay, the legends move closer to tying all-time records.

Williams, in her 10th bid since returning from childbirth to tie Margaret Court‘s 24 Grand Slam singles titles, battled and then rolled past 102nd-ranked countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-6 (2), 6-0.

“I just need to play with more confidence, like I’m Serena,” she said of the difference between a 74-minute first set and a 27-minute second set. “I love the clay, and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding.”

Nadal, in his second major since moving within one of Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Slam titles, swept 83rd-ranked Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

“Six months without playing a single tennis match is not easy,” said Nadal, who skipped the U.S. Open and then lost his third match at his comeback tournament in Rome. “I had to stop playing tennis for more than two months, so situation is difficult.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Their pursuits are very different.

Williams is already the greatest player in history by many measures, especially considering most of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and some at the Australian Open without the world’s best players.

Williams has lost all four of her major finals since her life-threatening childbirth. But she is not the favorite in Paris, despite the absence of 2019 champion Ash Barty of Australia and recent U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka. Williams hasn’t made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in four years and just went 16 months between competitive matches on clay.

She’s also battling an Achilles injury that affected her during a U.S. Open semifinal run three weeks ago. She’s spent most of her preparation time in France rehabbing.

“A ton of prayer,” she said, noting coming early to a post-match press conference to maximize her subsequent time handling the Achilles. “I’m doing so much for it.”

None of Williams’ potential first three opponents have ever beaten her. Next up: Bulgarian and fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova, a rematch of their three-set U.S. Open quarterfinal three weeks ago.

Like Williams, Nadal next plays on Wednesday. He gets Mackenzie McDonald, one of six American men to so far reach round two, the most since 1998.

For more than a decade, followers have debated the greatest male player in history between Nadal and Federer (and now Novak Djokovic). But not until winning the 2019 U.S. Open did Nadal move within one Slam of Federer’s total.

Now, Nadal can tie Federer and pass the Swiss if he wins the next two French Opens (and Federer doesn’t win the next Australian Open).

Nadal is going for his 13th crown in Paris, as usual downplaying his favorite status. This time, he’s noting the cool, slow, autumnal conditions and a new brand of tennis ball that is disadvantageous.

“Conditions here probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros,” Nadal said last week. “The conditions are a little bit extreme to play an outdoor tournament.”

Federer is not playing after two knee operations. Nadal, who at 34 is five years younger than Federer, has the opportunity in the coming matches and months to tip the scales in his favor. And help deny Djokovic, who is 33 with 17 Slams.

Nadal is not one to engage in that GOAT debate. Turns out, neither is Williams.

“You can’t compare two people that are equally great,” she said of Nadal and Federer. “I don’t understand why people want to pit who’s this, who’s that? They both have spectacular careers that 99 percent of people can only dream of and they both deserve.”

Earlier Monday, newly crowned U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem rolled 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Thiem, the 2018 and 2019 French Open runner-up, next gets American Jack Sock, a former top-10 player now ranked No. 310.

Sock took out countryman Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 for his first main draw win at the French Open in four years.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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World silver medalist opts out of figure skating Grand Prix

Elizabet Tursynbaeva
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Elizabet Tursynbayeva, the 2019 World silver medalist, said she will not compete in figure skating’s upcoming Grand Prix Series, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee.

Tursynbayeva noted in stating her decision that world ranking points will not be awarded in the series, which starts with Skate America from Oct. 23-25.

Fields for the six Grand Prix events, held on consecutive weekends through November, have not been released.

Skaters will be restricted to one Grand Prix start — halved from the usual two — and to the event in their home nations or closest to their training locations.

Tursynbayeva trains in Russia, one of six nations to host Grand Prix events.

Previously, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu announced he would not compete on the Grand Prix due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel risks.

Russian Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova, who announced an indefinite break from competition last December, is also not expected to compete. She is hosting a Russian skating-themed TV show but has not announced her future competition plans.

Tursynbayeva took silver behind Zagitova at the most recent world championships in 2019, a surprise given her 12th-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics. Tursynbayeva withdrew before her 2019 Grand Prix events, reportedly after suffering an injury.

Last season’s top skaters were all first-year seniors — Russians Alena Kostornaya, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. The world championships were not held due to the pandemic.

Two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

MORE: Orser reacts to Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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