South Africa — As expected, Oscar Pistorius was left off South Africa’s team Thursday for the Paralympic athletics world championships next month in France.
South Africa named a squad of 32 athletes for the event in Lyon from July 19-28. It will be the first major meet that the world’s most famous disabled athlete will miss as he prepares for his murder trial in the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February.
Charged with premeditated murder in Steenkamp’s killing, the double-amputee runner will return to court in South Africa on Aug. 19 — the day after the able-bodied world championships, where he had also intended to run, conclude in Moscow.
Pistorius has dropped out of all competition this year to focus on his trial, which has no start date yet but could begin in September, state prosecutors say. Pistorius denies murder in Steenkamp’s fatal shooting at his home in the early hours of Feb. 14 and says he killed her by accident after mistaking her for a nighttime intruder.
The 26-year-old Pistorius, who is a current Paralympic world champion in the 200 and 400 metres, was planning to again run at the disabled and the able-bodied worlds this season, a double he achieved in 2011 when he became the first amputee athlete to run at the IAAF world championships.
Pistorius also was targeting a second appearance at the able-bodied Olympics in 2016, when he had planned to end his career alongside longtime coach Ampie Louw following that year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The South African has not competed since last year’s London Paralympics and his track future is uncertain as he faces a life sentence, with a minimum of 25 years in prison, if convicted of premeditated murder in Steenkamp’s killing.
Arnu Fourie was South Africa’s most prominent sprinter in the team for the Paralympic worlds without Pistorius. Fourie was a bronze medallist in the 100 metres at last year’s London Paralympics, finishing ahead of Pistorius, who was fourth.