Blake Leeper, a rising U.S. star in Paralympic track, expressed shock Thursday after learning that his chief rival and mentor, Oscar Pistorius, was charged with murder in South Africa.
Pistorius, known as "Blade Runner," was a superstar in the sport and the first Paralympian to compete in the Olympics, running in the 400 meters and 4x400 relay at the London Games last summer.
The 26-year-old athlete is facing a murder charge after his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot four times inside his Pretoria home during predawn hours.
"That's something I would never associate with him," Leeper said in a telephone interview from the U.S. Olympic Committee training center in Chula Vista. "He was a very mellow, humble dude. Extremely, extremely calm."