Oscar Pistorius hangs heavy over the global names at Birmingham

 

It was fair to say that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was still in a state of shock yesterday. "When I got off the plane at Heathrow yesterday and gave the immigration officer my passport, she asked 'What's your purpose for being here?'" the Jamaican sprinter, who won the Olympic 100m title in Beijing in 2008 and at London 2012, recounted. "I said: 'Oh, I'm an athlete. I'm here to compete in Birmingham.' She said: 'OK, so were you at the Olympics?' I was like: 'Yes, I was at the Olympics.' She said: 'Do you know Oscar Pistorius?' I said 'Yes.' She said: 'He shot his girlfriend.' 'I was like: 'Are you serious?'"

It was a similar story for many of the international stars travelling to Birmingham for the showpiece event of the winter indoor athletics season, the British Athletics Grand Prix at the National Indoor Arena today. Fraser-Pryce – clearly not as recognisable a public figure as her Jamaican team-mate Usain Bolt, despite her own back-to-back Olympic 100m successes – runs in the 60m, her first-ever indoor race. "We don't have any indoor tracks in Jamaica," she said. "We don't have any need for them."

Like the rest of the athletics world, she is still coming to terms with the news that a fellow 2012 Olympian has been charged with murder. "When I left passport control at Heathrow, I went straight on my phone and Googled it and a whole list of articles came up," Fraser-Pryce said. "I tried to read as much as I could.

"I was like, 'Wow, I need to wait until I can see everything on the TV.' But I've not really drawn a conclusion yet. I've not really processed the information. I've not heard what he has to say so it's very difficult to actually comment. I don't know Oscar well. I've seen him but I've never really spoken to him."

Asked whether it was "the talk of the athletes" at the meeting hotel in central Birmingham, Mo Farah, Britain's Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion, admitted: "Yeah. It is – because you turn on the television and it's something that you can't miss. It's all over the world. But at the same time we don't know what's going on, so you've just got to try and keep going with your own thing. For me, my main job here is to run the 3,000m race I have tomorrow, and try and win it and not think about anything else.

"I knew Oscar to say hello to on the circuit, as you do. And for what he's achieved as an athlete, you've got to admire that. But I didn't know him personally. I'm just the same as everyone else, seeing the news. Obviously it's a sad situation but I don't know what's going on, so it's hard to comment."

Asked whether it was sad to see athletics on the front pages for such tragic reasons, Farah replied: "Yeah, it is sad. We don't want to see our sport like that." It was suggested that the tragedy might have "tainted the vision of the Paralympics". Farah shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know," he said. "I don't know what's going on. I haven't got a clue."

High-jumper Ivan Ukhov, another of the Olympic champions in action today, said: "It is a big tragedy. That is all I can say. We don't know what happened. We will have to wait and see."

American sprinter Carmelita Jeter, who anchored the US to Olympic 4x100m gold in world-record time, said: "I really don't know Oscar. I've seen him a couple of times at track meets, and he has always spoken to me and been very nice. That's all that I know of him. I don't really know him as a person. It's definitely a sad situation, but the only thing I know is the same thing that everyone else has seen on the news."

Martyn Rooney, Britain's leading 400m runner, issued a brief statement yesterday, giving his reaction. The Croydon Harrier, who will not be in action in Birmingham, has been a close friend and supporter of Pistorius for several years and returned home to Britain only on Sunday after spending a month training with him in South Africa.

"My thoughts and prayers go out the families and friends of those involved," Rooney said. "I will not be making any further comment on the events of this week and ask that this decision is respected."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?