‘Fame isn’t that great’
In an interview with women’s magazine Sarie last month, Oscar Pistorius told Charis Labuschagne about the risks of fame, his relationships and his little black book
Every time a journalist writes an untruth about him, he makes a note in his little black book, says Oscar Pistorius, the hero of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Just a note. I have a little black book. I know how much time I spend on humanitarian work, how much time I give the people close to me. I know what type of person I am. I don’t have to defend myself every five minutes.
“If you are going to get involved in arguments about who said what, you are creating sensation. I’m not going to get involved in things that are negative or waste my time. It’s not worth it.”
Pistorius shared this with Sarie in an exclusive interview published a few weeks before he was arrested for killing Reeva Steenkamp.
The magazine interviewed Pistorius and his sister Aimee, who was by his side during his appearance in court this week.
Oscar spoke of the joys of fame but also the pitfalls he guards against.
“Fame is good if you are a film star or singer because it helps your income. But if you are a sports star, it can easily distract you from your career. Fame is amazing for sponsorships and things, but in the end you want a successful career in sport. And to do that, you have to focus.”
He said it was “cool” to be voted one of the sexiest people in the world by People magazine, but what he treasured most was when Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“It was such a huge honour. As a sportsman you are a brand. And as an individual sportsman, you count a lot on that brand. You give everything to be the best athlete on the field, but you also try to promote your brand off the track.”
Oscar spoke of how he lived in Italy four months a year.
“I’m in South Africa about four months per year. The past two years I’ve had a house in Gemona where I stay for four months of the year to practise. My house there is in the mountains and so calm and quiet.
“In 2010 I delivered a speech there and met the mayor. He wanted to know if I would consider training there and asked me what I needed. Six months later I inspected the facilities he built especially for me. I’ve got my own athletics track and gym. It’s just easier to fly from there to participate in races. I don’t have to fly over continents and the flights are much shorter.”
Oscar told Sarie the biggest disappointment of his career so far was a boating accident in February 2009.
“I crashed my speed boat against a submerged pier in the Vaal River. I was in a coma for a few days. When I woke up, bones in my face were broken. I was almost dead. Some ribs and my arm were broken. I had more than 100 stitches in my face. There were a lot of newspaper articles – real tabloidy trash. I read one article with the headline ‘Was he drinking?’ but nowhere in the story was it mentioned.
“It had nothing to do with alcohol. The South African media are sometimes very sensational. There is little regard for the truth. I don’t really do interviews in South Africa any more. If someone writes something about me that is not true, I just open my notebook and make a note.”
But the Blade Runner said he was dealing much better with negative publicity.
“When I was younger, I wanted to call the journalist and get things off my chest. At the end of the day (he sighs) . . . If I comment on a story, it just becomes bigger. (He keeps quiet and thinks). Fame isn’t that great. Like anything in life, it has its pros and cons, its highlights and lowlights. The best thing you can do is not to let it go to your head when you achieve things. Because it is only a matter of time before you are cut down. Just live life and be nice to people.”
Sarie asked Oscar about his relationships with women – in November last year his ex, Samantha Taylor, told City Press Reeva Steenkamp was probably not the only girlfriend he had.
“Oscar has such a way with women,” she said. Oscar told Sarie he was uncomfortable discussing his private life in public. “A lot of the things in the newspapers lately are heartbreaking, more than anything. You trust someone and then they do something totally unexpected. You learn from it.”
Sarie asked him if he was distrustful at the beginning of a relationship.
“You are just never too sure in a relationship. You take a chance every time you meet someone. But you can’t be too cynical about anything in life. All you can do is hope the person you’re with has integrity.
“It is difficult to find the right person, one who is trustworthy, who will keep your private stuff private. It requires a very special person to be in a relationship with a sportsman. I know it.
“It is not an easy life. I travel so much (in eight months last year he undertook 79 international flights). You need someone who can travel with you or who is super accommodating. Is it a challenge? Yes. I haven’t found the right person yet, but it’s okay.”