As news of Oscar Pistorius' arrest on suspicion of murder reverberated around the athletics world, nowhere – nowhere apart from South Africa, naturally – was left more stunned than London. The city where the 26-year-old Blade Runner made his ground-breaking double appearance in the Olympic and Paralympic Games last year is home to one of his closest friends in athletics and to his international media agents.
Croydon Harrier Martyn Rooney has been a long-time friend and supporter of his fellow 400m runner and only returned to Britain on Sunday after spending a month training with Pistorius at the Groenkloef Campus in Stellenbosch. Rooney was too upset to comment, but on Sunday he posted on his Twitter account from South Africa: "Sad to be leaving here, a honour to train with @OscarPistorius and his team for a month."
Pistorius has been a frequent visitor to Britain in recent years and, through his appearances in the annual BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, forged a close working relationship with Fast Track, the London-based international sports marketing agency founded by the former Olympic 400m hurdler Alan Pascoe in 1998. Since July 2011, they have handled his international media affairs and publicity.
A spokesperson for Pistorius at Fast Track's Westminster offices said: "Oscar is assisting the police with their investigation but there will be no further comment until matters become clearer."
It was announced only on Wednesday that the 2012 Olympic Stadium would be staging the London Anniversary Games in July, two days of Diamond League action featuring able-bodied athletes followed by a day dedicated to Paralympians. Pistorius would have been a prime candidate to compete in both but organisers UK Athletics had not opened negotiations to secure the appearance of the cross-over Olympic-Paralympic star.
The only events Pistorius has committed to this year are on the Australian circuit next month: the Sydney Track Classic on 9 March and the Perth Track Classic a week later. When these were announced last month, he said: "I don't even know where to begin when describing the past 12 months.
"The Olympics were phenomenal and to be lucky enough to back that up with an amazing few weeks at the Paralympic Games was out of this world. The people of London truly embraced both events."
'Shocking': Twitter reaction
Horrendous news about Oscar Pistorius and the shooting of his girlfriend. What an awful tragedy.
Extremely sad news about Oscar Pistorius and the shooting of his girlfriend. Terrible tragedy, thoughts & prayers with you.
Can't believe the news about Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend
Can't believe the pistorius saga has happened. sad times. its a shame some people feel its ok to make jokes about it... at the track!
Pistorius story gets more grim by the minute.
It's shocking to read the Oscar Pistorious story as an Englishman, shows the level of worry and crime in SA.
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