Nyongani relives time with Pistorius

HARARE - Zimbabwean athlete Talkmore Nyongani, who trained Oscar Pistorius in the build up to the blade runner's 2012 London Olympic participation – says he is saddened by the tragic turn of events in the life of the South African champion sprinter – who is being charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.

Record-breaking sprinter Nyongani, a two-time Zimbabwean Olympian, assisted Pistorius six days a week at the University of Pretoria-attached High Performance Centre prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in the British capital.

The double amputee made history when he became the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympic Games after being picked by South Africa for the 400m as well as the 4x400m relay squad.

Nyongani was for a sustained period Pistorious’ training partner, sharing the same hotel room and traveling the world together.

But all the good memories have been clouded by despair after the blade runner fatally shot his model girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year through a locked bathroom door at his Pretoria home. Pistorious says he thought he was firing at an intruder.

And Nyongani is still trying to come to terms with the deepening gloom facing a man who became his trainee and subsequently his friend.

“Before the London Olympics he wanted someone to train with him. He was also attempting to race with able-bodied athletes in London,” Nyongani, a Zimbabwe junior 400m record holder, tells the Daily News.

“So to make his times increasingly competitive, I was hired to train with him and become his training partner. That is when I also managed to get a small (sponsorship) package with Nike.

“From there I was training with Oscar, helping him and using the funds I got from there to sustain my own career.

“I started with him after the Beijing Games right up to the London Games.”

The 31-year-old from Chinhoyi, who rose to prominence in 2002 at the World Junior Championships in Jamaica, where he finished a credible fourth with a time of 45.93 seconds, says he grew closer to Pistorius during his time as his trainer.

“We travelled on several tours together, to Italy and the like, and I would also help him out with his prosthetic legs,” Nyongani says.

Nyongani has represented Zimbabwe at the African Championships, Commonwealth Games, All-Africa Games and Olympic Games.

In the Athens Games in 2004, then a 21-year-old was given the honour to carry the flag for Zimbabwe at the opening ceremony.

It was no surprise when Pistorius’ management sought the services of the Zimbabwean track star.

Nyonangani however says his relationship with Pistorius was not always rosy.

“After 2012 we had a fall out with his management,” he says.

“We were actually trying to get back together last year then on February 14 that’s when he shot his girlfriend.”

Nyongani currently works and lives in South Africa.

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