Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius put his track and field career indefinitely on hold after he was charged with murder in the shooting death of his model girlfriend, his manager Peet Van Zyl said.
The decision to cancel Pistorius’s scheduled appearances in Australia, Brazil, the U.S. and the U.K. during the next 14 weeks was made “to allow Oscar to concentrate on the upcoming legal proceedings and to help and support all those involved as they try to come to terms with this very difficult and distressing situation,” Van Zyl said in a statement issued by In Site Athlete Management Pty late yesterday.
Pistorius, 26, is scheduled to appear in court in Pretoria for a bail hearing tomorrow after prosecutors said they plan to argue he committed premeditated murder in the Feb. 14 death of Reeva Steenkamp, 29, at his home in the city. Pistorius’s family said there’s no substance to the allegation and the state’s evidence “strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder or indeed any murder at all,” Arnold Pistorius, the runner’s uncle, said in a statement two days ago.
Van Zyl said he visited his client yesterday at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria where he’s in custody to offer his support and discuss racing matters.
Pistorius, dubbed the “Blade Runner” because of his double leg amputation and prosthetic running blades, had been contracted to race in Australia for the first time next month with appearances in Sydney and Perth. He was also scheduled to run in Rio de Janeiro on March 31 and in Iowa on April 26 before competing at the May 25 Manchester City Games in the U.K.
“Further competitions were being discussed as Oscar focused on the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in August as the highlight for his season,” Van Zyl added in the statement.
Pistorius, who was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee at 11 months old, has won six Paralympic gold medals. He became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games in London last year and was included on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most-influential people.
He competed in his first able-bodied elite event at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea. He got his chance after sport’s highest tribunal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in 2008 overturned a ban prohibiting him from competing against able-bodied athletes, imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, which said his blades give him an advantage.
Van Zyl said that Pistorius’s sponsors and partners, which include Nike Inc. and U.K. telecommunications provider BT Group Plc, would honor their contractual commitments with the athlete for the time being.
“They have said they are happy to let the legal process take its course before making any change in their position,” Van Zyl added in the statement.