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Oscar Pistorius' former coach reacts to news of his arrest in slaying

February 14, 2013|By Houston Mitchell
  • Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. (Waldo Swiegers / AFP/Getty…)

The former coach of Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius said he was stunned by the news that the double-amputee was arrested Thursday in connection with the slaying of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

"It's incredible for anyone involved with Oscar, especially his family," Andrea Giannini, who coached Pistorius from 2009 through 2011, told the Associated Press. "I knew Oscar well. I'm hoping it was just a tragic accident. He's a marvelous person, a really sweet and calm guy. It seemed like this was a calm time for him. He seemed really happy and well-balanced."

The mayor of Gemona, Italy, where Pistorius trained in 2011 and 2012 to prepare for the London Olympics, also said he was shocked. Pistorius trained in Gemona because officials there built a special track for him to run on. Pistorius was born without a fibula bone in each of his legs and ran with special carbon-fiber blades attached to the bottom of his amputated legs.

"The news shocked not only me personally but also the whole of Gemona and the region. It's come as a huge shock to everyone who knew him," Mayor Paolo Urbani said. "I have to say Oscar was an exceptional testimonial for our project, helping the city take forward its sporting plans. He's a delightful person, not only as a sportsman but also how he is as a human being. The news is still very fragmentary and we're waiting to hear more, to find out exactly what happened."

Pistorius was on South Africa's track team in London, reaching the semifinals in the 400 meters and then running for South Africa's 1,600-meter relay team.

"This is not the moment for the IOC to be commenting on this tragic incident. Our thoughts are with the families affected and we send them our deepest sympathies,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

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