Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius (aka Blade Runner) made history at the London 2012 Olympic Games by becoming the first double amputee to compete and make an Olympic final. Now back to defend his titles at the Paralympics starting today, Oscar tells Natalie French about his love of Italy and his native South Africa.

Huge congratulations on your success at the Olympics. It must feel surreal returning to London for the Paralympics...How are you feeling?

London POscar loves London
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I’m very excited to be returning to London. The Olympic Games were such a great experience, it was an absolute privilege to take part and I was very proud to be asked to represent Team South Africa. The Paralympics in London will be a huge occasion and I’m looking forward to defending my 100m, 200m and 400m titles, which won't be easy.

It was a great moment to watch when Kirani James (Grenadian 400m World and Olympic Champion) asked to swap numbers with you at the end of the 400m semi-final at the London Olympics. How did it feel from your perspective?

It was a very humbling experience. I was competing against the best runners in the world and I have a lot of respect for them, so for Kirani to do that was a highlight of my Games and showed that the respect is reciprocated.

Did you have any free time to hang out in the big smoke? If so, what was your favourite place?

I love London. It’s such a diverse, vibrant city. I didn’t get very much down time during the Olympics but when I do, I like to go to the parks and have a look around. I’m really into architecture and London has some of the best buildings in the world; I went to look at The Shard, and Tower Bridge is a favourite of mine. I also really liked the Orbit, which was part of the Olympic Village.

Your training camp is in Venice. Have you managed to escape to explore the beautiful city?

VeniceVenice's stunning architecture
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I’m based just outside Venice in a town called Gemona, which is at the foot of the mountains and is very peaceful and stunning in scenery. It’s like a family-run town and everyone has made me feel so supported and welcome there. Venice of course is so historic and stunning and my love of architecture really comes into its own when I am visiting there.

As an elite athlete, you’ve travelled the globe to compete – what have been your top three destinations and why?

Italy – Lignano in particular as it’s where I set the Olympic qualification time. I love Italy, the language, the history, the people. I would also say the US as the facilities are amazing – particularly in Portland and New York. Then I would also say parts of South Africa; Cape Town, and my home of Pretoria, are just stunning.

Your diet must be pretty strict during training, but have you ever tried any peculiar foods on your travels?

My diet is very strict so I don’t really get to be very adventurous. Living in South Africa, there are a few choices of unusual food; I’ve eaten crocodile before which has the consistency and taste of chicken.

Is there any destination that you are itching to visit?

Oscar P AustraliaOscar hopes to explore Australia in the future
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I’m yet to visit Australia. I was also recently invited to visit Vietnam and I would love to do that and learn more about the country and its history. I would love to help educate people who have been affected by disabilities about what you can achieve in life.

Describe your ultimate holiday?

To lie back on a beach and just relax! I love Mozambique and it’s very beautiful and I enjoy fishing and catching up with friends each time I go there.  My life is very hectic and busy so when I go away I really like to take a break and rest as much as possible.

Back home in South Africa, where do you go to chill out?

Just at home with my dogs and friends in Pretoria. It’s bliss.

I’ve got 24 hours in Pretoria and 24 hours in Cape Town – what must I see?

PretoriaUnion Buildings in Pretoria
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In Pretoria, you should spend some time at the Union Buildings and explore the Game Farms on the outskirts.

In Cape Town, I would start in the morning at the V&A Waterfront and at Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held. You should then get a cable car to Table Mountain and explore the wine and cheese farms before taking time at the Baxter Theatre.

You ride a motorbike. What’s been the best two-wheeled road trip?

The Phakisa Ride (South Africa). It’s a competitive race and I like to spend a weekend at the race before evenings in the pits with my buddies.

You breed race horses. Where in the world would your ultimate hack be?

The Dubai Duty Free Race or the Kentucky Derby, for sure!

Any plans for a well-earned holiday after the Paralympics are over?

Yes, I would like a good holiday after the Paralympics. I think it’s important to get rest when you can and it’s obviously been a very busy and rewarding last few months. I’m thinking of a nice beach holiday where I can eat nice food and soak up the sun.

Will we see you in Rio 2016?

If I remain in form and free of serious injury I would love to compete in Rio. I feel I will be at my peak then.

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