Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic athlete from South Africa known as the Blade Runner, was back on the track Thursday in a low-key workout for the first time since he was accused of killing his girlfriend in February.
Pistorius will be arraigned in August for the death of Reeva Steenkamp, a model and actress. He says he accidentally shot Steenkamp when he mistook her for an intruder at his Pretoria home in the early morning of Feb. 14.
The double amputee, who was seen in March at the University of Pretoria track, made his official return to training Thursday for what his family termed a light workout.
“It was a very emotional experience for him to put the blades back on, to walk back onto the track, get the smell of the track,” Peet van Zyl, Pistorius’ agent, told the Associated Press. “It was tough for him. He said to me it was like a bittersweet feeling and emotion for him to be back on the track.”
Van Zyl said Pistorius telephoned Coach Ampie Louw and the agent last week to tell them, “Guys, I think I’m ready to resume training.” Van Zyl said Pistorius has no plans to compete in 2013. The agent released a statement from Pistorius’ family. It read:
“His focus at this time remains entirely on the court case. His family and those close to him have encouraged him to spend a few hours a week on the track to assist him in finding the necessary mental and emotional equilibrium to process his trauma and prepare for the trial.”
Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics when he ran the 400 meters at the 2012 London Games. He made it to the semifinals in qualifying and also participated on South Africa’s 1,600-meter relay team, which finished eighth in the nine-team final. Pistorius was selected by his countrymen to carry the nation’s flag in the closing ceremonies. He medaled in the 2012 Paralympics that followed in London.
Pistorius will appear in court on Aug. 19, when a date could be set for the start of a murder trial. He faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted. Police say Pistorius shot Steenkamp multiple times through a bathroom door.