Graeme Joffe

Who is the real Oscar?

2013-02-18 10:44
Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
I had the great pleasure of meeting Oscar Pistorius on a charity weekend in Kuruman nearly 10 years ago.

I was taken aback by this smiling, charismatic, charming youngster, who looked set to take the world by storm.

Humbled by his story and amazed how positive he was, despite his life changing disability and having just lost his mother.

He was then still the real Oscar Pistorius.

I followed his career with an eagle eye and when the bombshell dropped last week Thursday, I was numb with shock but not totally surprised. My first thoughts were, how will a family cope with this tragic loss of a daughter?

My heart was - and still is - aching for the family of Reeva Steenkamp.

As I waded through the initial reports, I went back to my tweets from London 2012 when I was critical of the way in which Oscar was being used as a political pawn by SASCOC and the way in which he behaved after losing at the Paralympics. I had lost a lot of respect for SA’s blade runner. 

Oscar shouldn’t have been at the Olympics in London in the first place - he didn’t qualify but pressure from sponsors and politics made sure he was selected. We will leave the dirty laundry for another day, but would be interesting to know who was paid or promised what to make sure Oscar was at the Olympics.

Even when asked about Oscar’s Olympic selection last year, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was quoted as saying: “It’s a political decision”.

It was bad decision and it also made a mockery of SASCOC’s selection criteria.

Why weren’t the likes of Simon Magakwe, Greg Shushu and Natalie du Toit at the Games? So many other athletes also missed out on the qualification criteria, similarly to Oscar and SASCOC always states they only select medal potential athletes.

Was Oscar really going to win a medal in London?

Regardless of the selection, did SASCOC, his agent or his sponsors prepare the 25-year-old athlete for the pressure and stresses of the Olympic stage?

They sure knew how to milk the popularity of the situation, to an extent, that it became somewhat nauseating. It seemed as if every day in London, there was an Oscar Pistorius press conference.

It was overdone.

Yes, Oscar was the poster boy of the Olympics, even more so than Usain Bolt and everyone was getting their pound of flesh.

But was he prepared for the new status, all the media attention and competing in front of 80 000 people?
  
Never before had South Africa been seen in such a positive light but how it has all backfired. 

The trials and tribulations of Oscar Pistorius (boating accident, assaults, threats) have been well documented but each time they would quickly disappear and almost treated as not a big deal. The youngster needed professional help but while he was making money for those around him, it didn’t seem to matter. 
 
How many people in their early 20s have ownership of such arms and ammunition. How many people in their early 20s have million rand race horses and R3.2 million cars
        
Someone needed to guide him.

When Oscar stormed out of a BBC interview in a fit in 2011, I thought someone close to him would have taken heed but a year later on the biggest international stage, he acted in the very same fashion.

Very poorly.

Oscar’s outburst at the Paralympics after his defeat in the T44 200m smacked of sour grapes and the majority of the SA media in London, spun it to look like he was the victim.

The majority of the headlines read: “SASCOC defends Oscar”, “Oscar to appeal”, “In the heat of the moment” and only a day later, “Oscar apologises” - but he only apologised for the timing of his comments and not what he said.

He needed professional help.

Was Oscar ever coached on a mind level?

Does SASCOC have a full-time psychologist?

Sadly, there was little if none in the way of objective journalism about Oscar’s outburst from the SA media. Most defended Oscar to the hilt and some even tried to discredit SA scientist, Dr Ross Tucker, when he suggested Oscar had no argument. Part of the problem is that SASCOC paid for a number of journalists to go to London and some media are even on the SASCOC payroll, which makes it even more disturbing.

Oscar was made into an untouchable by the SA media. No-one wanted to dig a little deeper and when I was critical of the “blade runner”, I was shouted down and told to stop being unpatriotic.

SA needs a free media and not a manipulated one. SASCOC needs to be exposed for their corrupt practices that are shattering the dreams of our athletes. How many more stories does one need to read before action is taken?

Hopefully, not until another deeply traumatising tragedy unfolds.

South African sport is being run by the SASCOC mafia and this sickening tragedy could have perhaps been prevented if we didn’t have corrupt and greedy administrators, continually serving their own interests. 

Oscar was traded like a commodity in London and not that of a troubled sports star.

It also covered up the fact that South Africa had a disappointing Olympic Games and in a bitter twist of irony, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was quoted before the Games as saying: “I say to the President (Jacob Zuma), we stick to our guns, we know our preparations - forward ever, backwards never.”

“Oscar’s guns” have sent us all reeling backwards.

RIP Reeva!  

Email Graeme at: graeme@butterbean.co.za

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 169 and streaming worldwide on www.1485.org.za. Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy

Disclaimer:
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    oscar pistorius  |  graeme joffe  |  athletics
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