Oscar Pistorius has 'overwhelming support' from fans says agent
Nike, Oakley said to be maintaining sponsorship deals with sprinter until legal verdict reached
The Associated Press
Posted: Feb 17, 2013 3:46 PM ET
Last Updated: Feb 17, 2013 3:44 PM ET
South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius, who is being held on charges of murdering his girlfriend, has a lot of support from fans around the world, though his track career has been put on hold indefinitely, his agent said Sunday.
Pistorius' agent was forced to cancel all future races, he said, so Pistorius could concentrate on defending himself against allegations that he murdered his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by shooting her several times in his upscale house on Valentine's Day morning.
"Obviously from a management point of side and also as a friend, it's a tragic circumstances and events that is unfolded and we can only give Oscar our support at this point in time," said his agent Peet Van Zyl, who visited his client on Sunday.
"We have no option but to cancel all future races that Oscar Pistorius had been contracted to compete in."
Pistorius, 26, one of the world's most recognizable athletes, was charged on Friday with Steenkamp's murder. He is due to appear in court next Tuesday and Wednesday for a formal bail hearing.
Van Zyl said "a lot of fans [have sent their] overwhelming support," which was "really on a global scale. South African fans, international fans from literally all over the world."
The family of Reeva Steenkamp said Sunday her body was back in her hometown of Port Elizabeth. Adam Steenkamp, the brother of Pistorius' late girlfriend, told the Associated Press "Reeva is back home."
Meanwhile, Pistorius's sister Aimee and his brother Carl also visited their brother on Sunday at the Brooklyn Police station in Pretoria.
On Saturday, his uncle held a news conference and said his nephew is "numb with shock, as well as grief" and that his family "strongly refutes" that he murdered her.
The statement by Arnold Pistorius, the first on camera and directly made in person by Pistorius' family, also came out strongly against prosecutors seeking to upgrade the charge against Pistorius to one of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
"After consulting with legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegation of premeditated murder," Arnold Pistorius said.
"We have no doubt there is no substance to the allegation and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder."
Sponsors set to stick with Pistorius: agent
The track star's arrest shocked South Africa, where Pistorius was a national hero — dubbed the Blade Runner for his high-tech prosthetics and revered for overcoming his disability to compete in the London Games.
Pistorius' sponsors — including big-name brands Nike and eyewear manufacturer Oakley — were also sticking by him, Van Zyl said. But that could depend on the outcome of a possibly lengthy murder trial.
"Regarding sponsors and partners, I can confirm that at this point in time, all parties are supportive and their contractual commitments are maintained," Van Zyl's In Site Athlete Management company said.
"They have said they are happy to let the legal process takes its course before making any change in their position."
The Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike Inc. and Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Oakley Inc. did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Steenkamp was discovered in a pool of blood before dawn Thursday by police called to Pistorius' upscale home in a gated community in Pretoria. Authorities said she had been shot four times, and a 9 mm pistol was recovered at the home.
Police have already said they'll oppose Pistorius being released before trial. A premeditated murder charge also makes it more difficult for his defence team to get bail.
'They had plans together'
Arnold Pistorius did not discuss the circumstances of the shooting, but said that his nephew and Steenkamp had become very close since they started dating in November.
"They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time," the uncle said.
"Words cannot adequately describe our feelings. The lives of our entire family have been turned upside down forever by this unimaginable human tragedy and Reeva's family have suffered a terrible loss."
Steenkamp, who graduated from law school, is known in South Africa for appearing in commercials and as a bikini-clad model in men's magazines.
The 29-year-old was seen laughing and smiling on South African television Saturday night after national broadcaster SABC chose to air the first episode of a reality TV show in which she was featured.
Her family said it did not oppose the program being aired because Steenkamp wanted people to see it and a short tribute to her was shown before the episode.
A fellow contestant on the Tropika Island of Treasure 5 show told AP Television News that Steenkamp "was always making sure everyone was OK."
"Fun, crazy, loving, beautiful, gorgeous. She really was an angel and I still haven't come to terms with what happened," Katleho Molai said of Steenkamp.