News from Around The World

March 5 — Oscar Pistorious Trial: Defense Pokes Holes

The defense team for Oscar Pistorious poked holes in the testimony of yet another witness who said he heard shouts and shooting from the Olympian’s home the night his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was killed.

According to a CNN report, on day 3 of the trial, defense lawyer Barry Roux tried to show that some of the witnesses have tailored their testimony to match one another’s. Wednesday’s witness was Pistorius’ neighbor Charl Johnson, whose wife, Michelle Burger, has already testified to hearing shouts from the athlete’s house before a series of gunshots around 3 a.m.

Johnson told investigators he and his wife didn’t discuss their versions of events with each other. But on the stand, Johnson said he did discuss how many shots he and his wife heard and the timing of those shots.

“You and your wife could just as well have stood together in the witness box,” Roux remarked. For witnesses to be considered reliable, they have to maintain independent versions of events, Roux said. “You failed, Mr. Johnson,” he said.

The lawyer then grilled Johnson on whether what he heard that night was indeed gunshots. Roux said the sounds could have been Pistorius trying to break down the bathroom door with a cricket bat.

Wednesday’s session was shorter than the previous days. Johnson agreed to provide notes he took on the night of the shooting to the court.

On Tuesday, Roux was particularly effective in casting doubt on Burger’s claim that she heard a panic-stricken woman screaming in fear for her life before four gunshots rang out.

“We know Reeva was in the toilet. We know it was locked,” he said. “You could hear increased fear, anxiety? … You heard that out of a closed toilet in a house 177 meters away?” he demanded.

Burger said that was correct. Roux said the defense had tested it and it was impossible.

March 5 — Okagbare, Mozia out of World Indoors

Sprinter Blessing Okagbare and shot putter, Stephen Mozia have not been included in Team Nigeria’s provisional squad to this weekend’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland.

The Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) had reported last week through its Web site that Okagbare was at the head of Nigeria’s team to the biennial championships.
Okagbare, who last competed indoors in 2010 when she won the 60m/long jump double at the NCAA indoor championships last week rubbished the report.

The news on AFN Web site also included Cornell University, USA rave of the moment, Mozia who is not yet eligible to compete for Nigeria after representing his country of birth, USA at the IAAF World Junior Championships two years ago in Barcelona, Spain.

Mozia has expressed interest in switching his allegiance to Nigeria but due to IAAF eligibility rules, specifically Rule 5(e) he cannot do so now. The rule states that: Dual citizenship: if an athlete holds citizenship of two (or more) countries (or territories), he may represent the member of either (or any) of them, as he may elect.

However, having once represented his elected member in an international competition under Rules 1.1(a), (b), (c), (f) or (g), he shall not represent another member of which he is a citizen for a period of three years from the date that he last represented the first elected member. This period may be reduced or cancelled as set out below: (i) the period may be reduced to 12 months with the agreement of the members concerned.

The reduction shall be effective upon receipt by the IAAF Office of a written notification of the members’ agreement.

In the event both the AFN and the United States Track and Field (USTAF) agreed on Mozia, school commitments would still have ruled him out of the Sopot event.
The Nigeria-born field athlete is currently in the mix to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on March 14-15.

March 5 — Kim Collins Left of Team to Worlds

Veteran sprinter Kim Collins has been left off of the St Kitts/Nevis team to the upcoming World Indoor Championships in Poland, according to information out of the Caribbean twin-island state.

St Kitts/Nevis Athletic Association announced their two man team, Jason Rogers and Brijesh Lawrence, but there was no word on Collins, the world’s fourth fastest man over 60m for 2014, and the national record holder over the distance.

Collins was sent home from the 2012 London Olympics by St Kitts/Nevis Athletic Federation in a well publicized incident alleging that he spent a night with his wife without authorization. Collins’ wife is also his coach.

The 38-year-old sprinter was also snubbed for the World Championship Team last season by St Kitts/Nevis authorities.

March 4 — Day of Trial: Pistorius Breaks Down During Testimony

Oscar Pistorious covered his ears today as his attorney challenged a witness, at one point arguing that his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp could not have screamed after Pistorius fired a first shot through a bathroom door because that shot likely struck her in the head and caused serious brain damage.

Pistorius’ lawyer Barry Roux made the claim as he tried to poke holes into the testimony of a witness who said she heard a woman scream after a first shot. That scream was followed by several more shots in quick succession, Pistorius neighbor Michelle Burger had told the court.

Pistorius, the paralympian known as the Blade Runner, hung his head frequently during the testimony on the second day of his first degree murder trial and at one point put his hands over his ears during Roux’s cross examination of Burger.

Cain Pulls out of World Indoors

March 3: Injury has forced U.S. Women’s 1500m Champion Mary Cain to withdraw from the March 7 to 9 World Indoor Track & Field Championships, USA Track and Field announced yesterday.

“Over the past week, I developed a discomfort in my lower calf,” Cain said in a statement. “I had an MRI scan on Saturday and it was all clear, but I still feel the pain when I wear spikes and have decided not to risk making it worse in Poland…”

Heather Kampf, the alternate for the event after placing third at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, will compete in Cain’s place in the women’s 1500. First round begins Friday, March 7 at 1:35 p.m. ET.

Rudisha Still Out

March 3: World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop will lead the male charges at the third Athletics Kenya (AK) Relay Series on Friday. The lanky athlete got his rhythm back in Moscow’s World Championships, where he won gold in the 1,500m distance.

Many had expected Kiprop to team up with Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha for the men’s 4x800m relay team, but Rudisha, the world record holder, is yet to get over his knee injury. “I will not be running on Friday in Nairobi,” Rudisha said. “The injury is healed, but my legs lack the strength having been out for so long. I just returned from hospital in Germany and starting running normally now. It will be a while before I hit my top form,” said Rudisha. “After such a long time out (since June 2013 in New York), it takes a while to hit top gear. But the worst is over for me.”

Rudisha was expected to return to the Kenya team for the newly introduced IAAF World Relays Championships in the Bahamas, in May 24-25.