Oscar Pistorius was ‘heartbroken,’ ‘traumatized,’ says social worker

Oscar Pistorius
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Oscar Pistorius appeared heartbroken and traumatized one day after he killed girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a social worker and probation officer testified at the runner’s murder trial Thursday.

The defense called Yvette van Schalkwyk as one of three witnesses to testify on the 28th day of the trial in Pretoria, South Africa. Van Schalkwyk provided daily emotional support to Pistorius after he fatally shot Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. She said he cried 80 percent of the time.

“What I saw from the first time that I saw him, from the first second, was a man that was heartbroken about the loss,” van Schalkwyk said. “He was in mourning. He suffered emotionally. He was very sorry about the loss, especially for her parents. … That was the theme throughout the whole period that I saw him.”

Pistorius, the first double amputee to run in the Olympics in 2012, said he thought an intruder was locked inside his bathroom when he shot four times through a locked door, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside.

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

Van Schalkwyk sat with Pistorius in his prison cell during his bail application last year. The runner cried and vomitted twice, she said.

“He missed Reeva so much,” van Schalkwyk said. “That was his words, the first words he said to me.”

In court, van Schalkwyk read from weekly progress reports on Pistorius’ mental state from March 2013, from when he was seeing a psychologist for “intense therapy,” she said, adding that Pistorius held a small memorial service for Steenkamp while staying at his uncle’s house, which left him emotionally drained.

“The accused is very heartbroken,” she read from the first of four weekly reports. “He still has a lot of emotion and stress.”

Van Schalkwyk said she contacted Pistorius’ defense team on Tuesday telling them she was willing to testify. She was motivated by reports that Pistorius’ emotional responses in court — including sobbing and vomitting — were an act.

Earlier Thursday, anesthetist Prof. Aina Christina Lundgren testified that Steenkamp’s stomach should have been empty when she died if she had not eaten in at least six hours before the shooting. Pistorius believes Steenkamp had not eaten within eight hours of the shooting. An autopsy report said she still had food in her stomach. However, the anesthetist said it was an inexact science and speculative to judge.

The final witness Thursday was ballistics expert Wollie Wolmarans, who investigated the scene at Pistorius’ house beginning three days after the shooting. Wolmarans testified about Pistorius’ firearm, ammunition, bullet trajectory and Steenkamp’s wounds. He at one point asked the court if anybody had a firearm he could borrow to show how it worked, but nobody offered one.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Friday. The defense is expected to wrap its case by Tuesday.

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

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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