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Interview: Oscar Pistorius ahead of Dunhill debut

Oscar Pistorius at St Andrews. Picture: Jane Barlow

Oscar Pistorius at St Andrews. Picture: Jane Barlow

  • by STUART BATHGATE
 

ATHLETICS, boxing, cricket, golf, motorcycling, rugby and wrestling. Oscar Pistorius has tried his hand at all those sports and more and, given his success on the track, it comes as no surprise that he is rather good at most of them.

So good, in fact, that you may long to ask him if there is nothing he cannot do well. To which he would reply: Dancing.

Speaking yesterday in St Andrews, where he is taking part in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the Olympian and Paralympian said he was so nervous about the occasion that his hands were already sweating. However, when asked what was the most nervous he had ever been, Pistorius referred not to any golf event, or any athletics final, but to his appearance on the Italian equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing.

“To be honest, I had to do a Dancing With The Stars thing last year in Italy,” he said. “I’d like to say I have two left feet, but I have no feet at all. That for me was by far the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever had. It was 157 seconds of absolute torture. I had a good time. I wouldn’t say I’d do it again any time soon, but it was a lot of fun.

“Track is always nerve-wracking when you have big competitions but it’s what I know. It’s what I do every day. When you do something in front of a big crowd that you’re not accustomed to doing, or that you know you do very well, it is nerve-wracking. I would like to say that I’d just like to have fun this week but, ultimately, I’m a very fierce competitor, so I’d like to do well.”

It’s going to be tough for the 25-year-old, though. He and professional partner Paul McGinley take on Colin Montgomerie and Sir Steve Redgrave in today’s first round at Carnoustie and, while the great rower is renowned for his golfing ability, 18-handicapper Pistorius is, by his own admission, a little short of practice. “I haven’t had much time to play and I’ve got quite a dodgy game as it is, but I’m a very serious competitor,” he said. “Yesterday I shot 88, 89, and today I shot closer to the triple digits.

“So we’ll just see what happens over the next couple of days. I’m very excited – 50 per cent of my drives are fantastic and the other 50 are absolutely dismal. I am a big golf fan and love the game. I have never played St Andrews, Carnoustie or Kingsbarns before, so playing them in a world-class event is a unique opportunity. There is so much history at St Andrews; every golfer longs to play there.”

A double below-knee amputee, Pistorius won two golds and a silver at the London Paralympics to add to his four golds and a bronze from the previous two Games. He plans to continue his athletics career for another five years, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games, then concentrate on charity work. There should also be a little more time for golf. “I’m looking to run another five years, realistically. Sprinting is a very demanding career and I’d like to get involved in humanitarian work and family life. And I’d like to give as much time to the game of golf as possible. I don’t see myself improving much, to be honest. I’d like to maybe shave a couple of shots off my handicap. If I can ever break into a single-digit handicap, maybe a nine or an eight, I’ll be very, very happy with that.”

 

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