Skip to content

Oscar Pistorius was ‘global sports icon,’ manager says

Jul 1, 2014, 7:33 AM EDT

Oscar Pistorius AP

Oscar Pistorius became a “global sports icon” after the 2012 Olympics, his manager said at the athlete’s murder trial Tuesday.

“His profile was raised,” manager Peet van Zyl said of the first double amputee to run at the Olympics. “I think all media would agree with me that the London Olympic Games was about two people, and that was Mr. Usain Bolt and Mr. Oscar Pistorius.”

In February 2013, Van Zyl said Pistorius asked him if girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp could accompany him to overseas track meets.

“I want Ms. Steenkamp to see what my world is about, the pressure I am under, how I need to perform,” Van Zyl quoted Pistorius as saying.

One week later, Pistorius shot four times through a locked door in his Pretoria home bathroom, hitting and killing Steenkamp inside on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius said he thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder. If found not guilty of premeditated murder, Pistorius could be convicted of culpable homicide, South Africa’s version of manslaughter for negligent killing.

Van Zyl said he and Pistorius met at the house on Feb. 7, 2013, when they mapped out his competitive schedule for the season, culminating with the World Championships in Moscow in August.

Pistorius wanted Steenkamp to come with him for races in Brazil on March 31, against Paralympic rival Alan Oliveira, and at the Manchester City Games in England on May 25.

Van Zyl, who has known the athlete since 2004, said Pistorius had never before requested his girlfriend accompany him.

Van Zyl also said Pistorius’ financial value increased by five or six times after London 2012 and that he planned to retire in 2017.

Van Zyl said he had twice seen Pistorius lose his temper, both times with media. In 2009, a crew in Barcelona stuck a camera in his face and called him a cheater. In 2012, a BBC radio journalist asked if Pistorius was an embarrassment to his country, Van Zyl said.

The manager said Pistorius and Steenkamp had a loving relationship and that he sent emails arranging Steenkamp’s travel with Pistorius up to the hours before he learned of Steenkamp’s death. Pistorius was reportedly emotional Tuesday during a court break after Van Zyl described his relationship with Steenkamp.

In cross-examining by the prosecution, Van Zyl was asked about articles written about Pistorius. In one, Pistorius said he shot at a firing range on some occasions when he couldn’t sleep. In another, Pistorius’ London Paralympic roommate said he was forced to move out of their room because “Oscar was constantly screaming in anger at people on the phone.”

Van Zyl said he never saw Pistorius treat somebody in “an aggressive or undignified way” and he did not discuss the firing range story with him, either.

“At that stage, I did not see it as anything negative,” Van Zyl said.

Pistorius’ trial is scheduled to resume at 3:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Here’s NBC News’ full coverage of the trial.

Ukraine city Lviv withdraws 2022 Winter Olympic bid

Latest Posts
  1. Katie Ledecky, Sun Yang open quests for history with golds at World Championships

    Aug 2, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    Katie Ledecky Getty Images

    Also, a U.S. Olympic champion’s world record was broken in a semifinal.

  2. Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

    Aug 2, 2015, 1:28 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Rousey is a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist.

  3. World Swimming Championships men’s preview

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    Ryan Lochte Getty Images

    Action gets started Sunday in Kazan.

  4. USOC collecting data on polluted Rio Olympic water venues

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:42 PM EDT

    AP AP

    A US Sailing official maintained his stance on the Rio water from last year.

  5. Which Miracle on Ice item is the toughest for Jim Craig to sell? (video)

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Jim Craig AP

    Watch the goalie’s interview on The Dan Patrick Show.

  6. British Athletics clears Mo Farah after investigation

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Farah was to have “blood data, supplements data, everything surrounding his medical treatment” investigated.

  7. World Swimming Championships broadcast schedule

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    NBC, NBC Sports Live Extra and Universal Sports will combine for daily coverage.

  8. Almaty or Beijing? IOC set to choose 2022 Winter Olympic host

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:08 AM EDT

    Sochi Olympics Biathlon AP

    Either way, the vote will mark an Olympic first.

  9. Allyson Felix to run 400m at World Championships

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:27 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Felix will be absent from the 200m at Worlds for the first time since 2001.

  10. Simone Biles turns pro

    Jul 29, 2015, 4:49 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Biles won’t be eligible to compete collegiately.

  11. Abby Wambach ‘planning on playing’ in Rio, ‘still need time to decide’

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:53 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It would be tougher for Wambach to make the Rio Olympic team than the 2015 World Cup team.

  12. Markus Rehm, German amputee long jumper, left off World Championships team

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Rehm has the best long jump by a German this year, but he may have a competitive advantage.

  13. Inbee Park criticizes Olympic golf qualifying procedures

    Jul 29, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    “If you are in the world’s top 50, you should be able to play in the Olympics.”

  14. IOC president: Boston 2024 didn’t deliver on promises to USOC

    Jul 29, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    AP AP

    “I gave up following [Boston 2024] because it was pretty confusing.”