Pistorius as mysterious as the shooting tragedy

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 25, 2013 at 10:45 am •  Published: February 25, 2013

His relationships with women have been spread over the gossip pages in South Africa.

We spoke about his running, his love of sneakers and nice clothes but also about his history with fast cars and motorbikes and the high-speed boat crash in 2009 that left him in a serious condition in the hospital with head wounds. He conceded that the crash caused him to rethink how he lived.

"I just realized that I need to make some changes and some of them need to be with my lifestyle," Pistorius told me last year in that interview in northern Italy. "I was messing around a lot with motorbikes and just playing around and taking unnecessary risks."

Again with hindsight, was he grappling with anything deeper than just the high spirits and penchant for thrills of many young men flushed with success and money to burn?

Covering Pistorius' track career, he became more comfortable with me, remembering my name and shouting it when he would see me among a pack of journalists.

During his Olympic preparations in Italy, Pistorius pulled out his cellphone to show me pictures of his bleeding leg stumps, rubbed raw from the friction of pounding around the track on his blades.

It was around the time when people were again questioning whether he should be allowed to run in the 400 meters against able-bodied athletes. The message in showing these graphic photos was: Do you still think I have an unfair advantage?

Until that moment, I hadn't fully realized what Pistorius went through every time he slipped on his prosthetic blades to compete or train. Not many people had, I guess.

It was rare for Pistorius to show images of his amputated limbs, but he grinned and shrugged. He said it was just part of the job.

It took a long time for him to get used to people filming and taking photographs of him putting on his carbon-fiber blades. He used to ask people not to film him without his prosthetics.

When he finished a race at the South African national championships last year, he quickly disappeared to a secluded part of the track to swap his blades for artificial legs, complete with sponsored sneakers that his agent was holding for him. It was his regular post-race routine. He then came bounding back to give me an interview.

He often apologized when he had to end an interview because he was running out of time. It always seemed people wanted more of his time than he could give. After we talked in London, Pistorius stayed a little longer to pose for photographs with Olympic security staff, even convincing one shy lady to get into one of the pictures.

Then he popped on his identity-concealing hood and, on his prosthetic legs, he walked off, anonymous in the crowd.


Follow Gerald Imray at http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP