Oscar shuns the limelight
THE world's media turned out in force yesterday for Oscar Pistorius's first press conference at the London Olympics, and the Paralympic legend told the gathering that fame was the one aspect of his life he did not enjoy.
Pistorius will make history when he lines up in the 400m heats in London on Saturday, becoming the first double amputee to compete at the Games.
"Fame has been the one thing I probably don't enjoy that much," Pistorius said yesterday.
"I don't go out much. I love my sport and fame comes with it. It's never been something I've cared much about."
South African fans probably do not realise how big a star Pistorius is internationally. One Russian reporter asked him if his relationship with Russian supermodel Anastacia was serious.
Pistorius smiled in surprise.
"I don't have a relationship with her; we're just friends. We met briefly in New York. I don't know who thought we were dating, but that's not true."
Pistorius has handled his fame well, being a more-than-competent orator who frequently flashes a smile that warms his audience.
"I think I'm blessed if I get a letter in the mail from a kid on the other side of the world, or a picture that they've drawn [for] me. That's phenomenal and that makes me extremely happy.
"If I was in a career in the music industry or acting, then fame is important, but fame isn't going to make me faster on the track; it's not going to let me train easier; it's not going to make me lose weight easier."
Perhaps his biggest career ambition would be to end the debate that the carbon-fibre blades he runs on give him an advantage.
"Any improvements since I've started have not been from any changes made technically. They've been from hard training and a lot of sacrifice.
"But what I believe in is the fairness of sport, and at the moment the prosthetic leg we're using is deemed not to be providing an advantage."
"I think often there's a lot of debate about the advantages ... but there's not much said about the disadvantages. If this was such an amazing piece of equipment that's been around for 14 years, then how come thousands of other Paralympic athletes aren't breaking world records and challenging even a 45 or a 48 or a 49- second 400m?"
Pistorius remains the only Paralympic athlete to have broken the 50-second barrier, boasting a personal best of 45.07sec.
"You'll always get the person who wants to come out and make a comment or a professor who thinks he's got the knowledge, but I've been tested, and there isn't an advantage."
Pistorius said he should be at his peak for the Olympics.
"I'm in good shape. I'm hoping to make at least a semifinal and if I can run a personal best I'll be unbelievably happy," he said.
He will also compete in the 4x400m relay in which South Africa won silver at the World Championships in Daegu last year.
"We hope to make the final, and in the final, we've got great spirit."