Oscar Pistorius sentence date set after he walks without prosthetics in court (video)

Associated Press
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PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius removed his prostheses and hobbled on his stumps in front of a judge in a South African courtroom Wednesday, part of his defense team’s attempt to show that the double-amputee Olympic athlete, convicted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is a vulnerable man who deserves leniency when he is sentenced.

“Pity will play no role in the sentence,” chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel countered, asking Judge Thokozile Masipa to send the former track star to prison for 15 years, the minimum sentence for murder in South Africa.

Masipa will announce Pistorius’ sentence on July 6, she said at the end of three days of testimony and arguments in Pistorius’ sentencing hearing.

That sentencing is also expected to conclude the three-year legal saga of Pistorius, the once-acclaimed athlete and an inspiration to many before he shot his girlfriend in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius is currently under house arrest after an appeals court overturned an initial manslaughter conviction against him and changed that to murder. He served one year in prison for manslaughter.

Masipa, who initially acquitted Pistorius of murder at his trial in 2014, must now re-sentence him.

Masipa on Wednesday lifted a ban on the publication of graphic photographs of the gunshot wounds Pistorius inflicted on Steenkamp —which included a severe head injury — when he shot her multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home. Masipa lifted the restrictions after a request from Steenkamp’s father that people be allowed to see them.

The most dramatic image of the sentencing hearing was Pistorius walking unsteadily on his stumps in the courtroom Wednesday.

Defense lawyer Barry Roux asked Pistorius to remove his prostheses and the Olympian, who had taken off his suit and put on a T-shirt and running shorts during a recess, then hobbled across the courtroom. Wearing sportswear emblazoned with the logos of his former sponsor Nike, Pistorius was unsteady at times, holding onto wooden desks and helped by a woman at one point. He then returned to a bench where he sat alone, head bowed, and wiped away tears.

The demonstration drew gasps from some onlookers in the courtroom.

“I don’t want to overplay disability,” Roux said ahead of the demonstration, “but the time has come that we must just look (at Pistorius) with different eyes.”

The defense’s argument is that Pistorius, a multiple Paralympic champion and a history-making amputee athlete who ran at the 2012 Olympics, was a scared disabled man when he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius was on his stumps when he fired the fatal shots; he testified at his murder trial that he felt vulnerable and thought an intruder was in the house.

Roux said: “It was not the man winning gold medals that must be judged” but rather “a man standing on his stumps at 3 o’clock in the morning in the dark that must be judged.”

Prosecutors charged that Pistorius intentionally killed Steenkamp after a fight.

Chief prosecutor Nel said Pistorius should get the minimum sentence of 15 years, arguing that he had not shown genuine remorse a well as noting the seriousness of the crime and the devastating impact on Steenkamp’s family. Nel asked Masipa not to forget that Pistorius shot four times into a toilet cubicle from close range when he killed Steenkamp.

“He intended to shoot someone in the bathroom. He did,” Nel said.

A judge can reduce the minimum sentence of 15 years for murder in some circumstances. While prosecutors are seeking at least 15 years in jail, Pistorius’ defense argued that he should be spared any more prison time and be allowed to do community work with children.

Nel also addressed the defense argument that Pistorius is a “broken man” because of the grief from killing Steenkamp and the trauma that followed as the world focused on his case. Nel referred to the emotional testimony a day earlier of Barry Steenkamp, father of the victim.

“If you ever want to talk about a broken man, we saw a broken man there,” Nel said of Barry Steenkamp.

Roux had begun his arguments by saying there were misconceptions over Pistorius’ murder conviction, and “substantial and compelling circumstances” existed that would allow the judge to deviate from the 15 years.

Roux was trying to show Pistorius was guilty of a “less serious murder,” prosecutor Nel said. “That can never be the case … We feel a long-term imprisonment and the minimum sentence should be imposed.”

MORE: Reeva Steenkamp’s father testifies at Oscar Pistorius sentencing

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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