#EK – Oscar Pistorius – Nothing could predict such a tragedy
By Gianni Merlo, AIPS President, La Gazzetta dello Sport
MILAN, February 15, 2013 – How can Oscar, the friend who transmitted his joie de vivre to me, have become an alleged murderer? This is the question that torments me. The news came at dawn and it seemed the stuff of nightmares to me; the sort that bring your heart to your mouth before the sudden awakening. At that time, they were still four shots in the dark in the world of a different Oscar.
In 2008, just before the Beijing Olympics, when we wrote the story of his life together (and I have to admit that he is able to write very well), I met a young enthusiast who believed in the values of life. I was with him in Pretoria for three weeks. Up to then, his life had certainly not been easy, but he’d always faced it without complexes or fears. He never looked for an excuse. He had an elegant, blonde girlfriend from a good family. He maintained that women had always played a fundamental role in his life. He was very close to his mother before her untimely death and, at that time, he was also close to his sister Aimée. There really wasn’t anything that could predict such a tragedy as this. I defined him “a magnificent savage” because he had all the defects that were then the virtues of a young man of 20 years of age.
And when he came to Italy, he conquered it with his simplicity. One evening in Milan, we went to dinner with founder of the Italian fashion label Ottavio Missoni (himself an accomplished athlete in his youth), and Candido Cannavò, the former director of our newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport who had the newspaper’s iconic pink running through his veins, who immediately adopted Oscar and defended him in all circumstances, having him become the banner of a cultural revolution in the world of disability. Our newspaper launched a real campaign to allow him to follow the dream of his life.
Oscar has always said he’s normal and never felt disabled. He has helped many to understand how to deal with certain situations. He trained for a long time at Grosseto, and then more recently he went to Gemona, but he never revealed imbalances or flashes of sudden, blind rage.
The only news of behaviour that was a bit unusual came from South Africa when he was arrested for common assault at a party but was released after a night in jail with no charges. He was also in the headlines when a horrific speedboat crash left him seriously injured after being launched into the air when the boat hit a submerged jetty.
At the time he said he was rushing into the night to leave a horde of drunken, coarse friends behind.
Arms and violence are a part of daily life in South Africa. I haven’t seen Oscar for a long time and perhaps fame has faded the friendships of the era of the positive evolution. Someone told me that he’d changed in the last year. We helped him to rise quickly and now I have a doubt. Have we unwittingly cultivated a monster?