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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: 'I'm scared to sleep,' tearful Pistorius tells court

Sports Shorts: 'I'm scared to sleep,' tearful Pistorius tells court

Last updated on: April 07, 2014 18:52 IST

Sports Shorts: 'I'm scared to sleep,' tearful Pistorius tells court

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His voice cracking with emotion, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand in his own defence on Monday, saying the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend last year had left him sleepless, terrified and plagued by nightmares.

The disabled South African track star, on trial for murder, also apologised to the mother of model Reeva Steenkamp, saying he fired four times through a toilet door at his luxury Pretoria home in the belief he was defending her from an intruder.

Steenkamp, a law graduate and model, was hit by at least three rounds fired by Pistorius, one of which - to the head - killed her almost instantly, the court has heard.

"I was simply trying to protect Reeva," Pistorius told the court at the start of his testimony. Reeva's mother June Steenkamp, sitting in the public gallery of the packed Pretoria courtroom, bowed her head and remained steely faced.

Since the shooting, 27-year-old Olympic and Paralympic star Pistorius, who faces life in prison if convicted of murder, testified he had been on anti-depressants and sleeping pills because of his disturbed state of mind.

"I'm scared to sleep. I have terrible nightmares about things that happened that night," he said. "I can smell blood. I wake up to being terrified."

He recounted one occasion when he woke up so scared in the middle of the night that he crawled into a cupboard before calling his sister, who came round to sit with him.

"I wake up in a complete state of terror to the point that I would rather not sleep," he added.

Earlier, during graphic forensic testimony from a defence pathologist, Pistorius sat in the dock, retching into a bucket.

The distraught figure in the witness stand was a far cry from the gun-obsessed, fast-living hot-head that prosecutors sought to portray during the first 16 days of the trial.

As well as murder, Pistorius is accused of firing a pistol through the sun roof of a friend's car while on a public road, and discharging a handgun underneath the table of a packed Johannesburg restaurant.

He has pleaded 'not guilty' to all charges.

The trial, now in its 17th day, has gripped South Africa and millions of sports and athletics fans around the world who saw in Pistorius a symbol of triumph over physical adversity.

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Image: Oscar Pistorius (right) and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg, on February 7, 2013
Photographs: Thembani Makhubele/Reuters

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La Liga: Sevilla thrash Espanyol, cut gap to Bilbao

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Sevilla kept up the pressure on Athletic Bilbao in the battle for Spain's fourth Champions League spot when Kevin Gameiro struck twice in a 4-1 win at home to mid-table Espanyol on Sunday.

The victory for fifth-placed Sevilla at a festive Sanchez Pizjuan trimmed the gap to Bilbao to three points ahead of the Basque club's game at Levante on Monday.

Midfielder Stephane M'Bia powered in a header from a corner to open the scoring for the home side in the 18th minute before Gameiro netted his first of the game moments before halftime when he controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed low into the corner.

Espanyol pulled a goal back two minutes after the break after Sevilla defender Federico Fazio brought down Christian Stuani in the area and Sergio Garcia clipped home the spot kick.

Gameiro's second and Sevilla's third in the 84th minute was the pick of the goals. The Frenchman exchanged passes with Marko Marin and raced into the area before curling a shot past German Parreno in the Espanyol goal.

Sevilla substitute Ivan Rakitic controlled a long pass from the back and fired in at the near post to complete the scoring a minute from time.

"Fourth place will be tough," Sevilla midfielder Victor Machin said on the club website (www.sevillafc.es).

"We are in a good position and why not dream but we have to take each game at a time and keep winning and then we'll see," he added.

Bilbao have 56 points in fourth, which would earn a place in Champions League qualifying, with Sevilla in fifth on 53 in a Europa League berth, the competition they won in 2006 and 2007 when it was called the UEFA Cup.

Valencia, in eighth, lost last week's last-eight, first leg at Basel 3-0 and their chances of a return to the Europa League next season suffered a setback when they were held to a 0-0 draw at struggling Real Valladolid.

Malaga pulled further away from danger after they thumped Andalusian rivals Granada 4-1 and are three points behind Valencia and two adrift of Espanyol and Levante in 11th.

Getafe's chances of avoiding relegation receded when they conceded a goal in the third minute of added time in a 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Elche.

Alicante-based Elche have 35 points in 14th, four ahead of Valladolid and Getafe, who are 17th and 18th respectively.

The top three all won comfortably on Saturday and with six games left leaders Atletico Madrid remain on course for a surprise title triumph with 79 points.

Champions Barcelona, who host Atletico on the final day of the season, are a point behind in second, two ahead of third-placed Real Madrid.

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Image: Sevilla's Kevin Gameiro
Photographs: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

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Serie A: Destro hat-trick puts pressure on Juve

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Mattia Destro scored a hat-trick to give AS Roma a 3-1 win at Cagliari on Sunday which piled more pressure on Serie A leaders Juventus.

The 23-year-old took his tally to 13 goals in only 18 games since early December when he returned to action after an injury saga which lasted nearly one year.

Second-placed Roma, who were 14 points behind leaders Juventus just over a week ago, have reduced the a gap to a mere five by winning three times in eight days.

Champions Juventus, who host Livorno on Monday (1700 GMT) and are also involved in the Europa League, have started looking tired and vulnerable while Roma are getting stronger all the time after six wins on the trot.

Destro, who has not looked back since scoring after only eight minutes of his comeback match on December 8, put Roma ahead in the 32nd minute when he tapped in Gervinho's pass from close range.

Radja Nainggolan sent him clear to add the second with a confident finish in the 56th minute and he completed an excellent afternoon by side-footing home an excellent pass by Alessandro Florenzi.

Chile forward Mauricio Pinilla reduced the arrears with a late penalty for Cagliari who were again forced to play in an almost empty stadium because of ongoing rebuilding work at the Sant'Elia stadium. Only around 5,000 fans were allowed in and were packed into a small area behind one of the goals.

Juventus have 81 points from 31 games, with Roma on 76 from 32 and third-placed Napoli on 64 after they lost 1-0 at Parma with a lacklustre display which could not have been more different to the previous week's passionate win over Juventus.

Napoli were sunk by a powerful Marco Parolo strike early in the second half.

Parma moved up to joint fifth with Inter Milan on 50 points leaving the 2010 treble winners in danger of missing out on European football for a second successive season. The fourth and fifth-placed sides qualify for the Europa League.

Torino striker Ciro Immobile scored his 18th goal of the season, pulling him level with topscorer Carlos Tevez of Juventus, to give his side a 2-1 win at bottom club Catania.

Gonzalo Bergessio gave Catania the lead in the second minute and midtable Torino left it late before Alexander Farnerud levelled in the 79th minute and Immobile scored with a deflected goal four minutes later.

Relegation-threatened Sassuolo gave themselves a boost when Nicola Sansone scored twice in a 2-0 win at Atalanta who had set a club record by winning their previous six games.

The teams in the relegation zone are Livorno (25), Sassuolo (24) and Catania (20) while Bologna and Chievo are just outside with 27 each.

Fourth-placed Fiorentina beat Udinese 2-1 after midfielder Juan Cuadrado put them ahead in the first half and then won a soft penalty, converted by Gonzalo Rodriguez, in the 72nd minute.

Bruno Fernandes pulled one back for Udinese with what appeared to be an intended cross.

Lazio comfortably overcame Sampdoria 2-0 with goals from Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic despite having Lucas Biglia sent off just before the hour for a second bookable offence.

Lazio lost Germany striker Miroslav Klose to a thigh injury before kickoff while Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was forced to watch his team's meek performance from the stands as he began a two-game touchline ban.

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Image: Mattia Destro (centre) of Roma celebrates with his teammates after completing a hat-trick against Cagliari Calcio at Stadio Sant'Elia in Cagliari, Italy on Sunday
Photographs: Enrico Locci/Getty Images

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Norwich sack manager Hughton

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Norwich City sacked manager Chris Hughton on Sunday and gambled on inexperienced youth team coach Neil Adams in an effort to reverse their flagging fortunes and scrap their way clear of relegation.

- Norwich manager Hughton probed for alleged racist abuse 

The Premier League club took action after a 1-0 defeat on Saturday to fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion left them hovering one place above the relegation zone with five matches of the season remaining.

Norwich face a crucial visit to 18th-placed Fulham, five points below them, next Saturday.

"The Norwich City Board has taken the decision to give the club the maximum chance to secure the points required between now and the end of the season to ensure retention of our Barclays Premier League status," a club statement said.

"The recent run of four defeats in our last six Premier League games and six consecutive away league defeats, left the club with no choice but to act, with five games still to play in the current campaign."

Hughton, 55, had been at the club since the start of last season, after previous managerial spells at Newcastle United and BirminghamCity, and his first season in charge ended in an impressive 11th-place finish.

It all turned sour, however, as the club have failed to build on last season's achievement despite spending heavily in the transfer market on players such as attacking pair Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper.

Those two have failed to fire and the club have scored just 26 league goals all season, recently enduring a miserable run of one win in their last six games.

Dissatisfaction among fans came to a head during Saturday's defeat as sections of the home crowd chanted "we want Hughton out".

Although they are five points clear of the drop zone they still have to play league leaders Liverpool, last season's champions Manchester United and top-four sides Chelsea and Arsenal among their final fixtures.

Rather than appoint an established coach with experience of relegation scraps, the club have chosen to look within their own ranks for a solution to their current predicament.

The 48-year-old Adams, who made more than 200 appearances for the club, has never been a first-team manager, but his CV is bolstered by victory in last season's FA Youth Cup final against Chelsea.

"People know what this club means to me, and so it goes without saying that we will be doing everything possible to ensure that we maintain our top-flight status for next season," he said.

"These final five games will be a huge test for us, and everyone must step up to the mark. But with the full backing of these magnificent Norwich supporters we will have every chance of achieving our objective."

Coaches Colin Calderwood and Paul Trollope have also left the club.


Image: Chris Hughton, manager of Norwich City
Photographs: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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