A South African newspaper published a photograph of Oscar Pistorius at a running track in his carbon fiber blades Thursday as the Olympian's agent said his return to training was now imminent — but denied he was already in training.
The Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper had the image of what it said was Pistorius, who was charged with murder for the Valentine's Day shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, on the front page of its Thursday edition.
In the photograph, the double amputee is seen from some distance wearing his blades and dark lycra running clothes and is walking on a track with his hands on his hips. The newspaper said the photo was taken on March 24 by a high school student visiting the University of Pretoria, where Pistorius' regular practice facility is.
It was the first time Pistorius had put his blades on since he shot dead Steenkamp in his home in the early hours of Feb. 14, his agent, Peet van Zyl, said later on Thursday, but it was not a training session.
Just a 'jog around the track'
Pistorius was only "having a jog around the track," the agent said, as the newspaper claimed sources had told it the Olympic 400-meter runner and Paralympic champion had begun full training on March 21. Van Zyl disputed that and said neither he nor Ampie Louw, Pistorius' coach and the man who controls his training sessions, were present at the track on the day the photograph was taken.
The single photo, a grainy image taken through a metal fence showing Pistorius walking on the far side of the track, was accompanied by a front-page story under the headlines "Oscar is back on the track" and "In training with other athletes."
Pistorius' management team was expecting the photo to be published, Van Zyl said, after Pistorius told them he had visited his track with some Australian athletes on the day a little under two weeks ago. It was reported on Wednesday that Pistorius had been at the track in the South African capital city on the day of the photograph.
But while Pistorius wasn't yet in a training routine, his return could be any day now, his agent said.
"He might get up this morning and call (coach) Ampie (Louw) and say he wants to be at the track at one o'clock," Van Zyl said. Van Zyl also said Pistorius' desire to start training again did not show disrespect to the family of Steenkamp.
Pistorius denies murder in the Valentine's Day killing of model Steenkamp, saying he mistook her for a nighttime intruder in his home. His next scheduled court appearance is June 4, when prosecutors say they intend to serve indictments.