Oscar Pistorius is and has been for a while, the poster boy of the Paralympics. Affectionately named the blade runner, Pistorius is one of those rare athletes who transcend his sport, in line with some of the greats: Mohammad Ali, Ian Botham, Roger Federer, Sir Chris Hoy, Usain Bolt to name but a few. No wonder when BT won sponsorship of the London Games, they jumped at the chance to name Pistorius as one of their ambassadors along side some of the GBs top medal hopes.
A man who trains as hard as he does, who is open about his disability, who has suffered heartbreak when his mother died ages 15, who is the first amputee to run in the Olympic games, is a sponsors dream…until Sunday night.
For the first time we saw the ‘unprofessional’ side to the blade runner when he was piped to the finish line in the 200m T44 by a 20 year old Brazilian double amputee. Oscar – with the world shocked at watching him come second – stepped up to an interview with Channel 4 and told the world Oliveira was using blades that made him unnaturally tall, giving him an unfair advantage to win the race.
I don’t have enough knowledge about the IPC (International Paralympics Committee) or its regulations to know if what Pistorius was saying is true, but what I do know is in that interview he managed to tarnish his perfect image.
I’m sure there was some credence to what he was suggesting but the manner in which he made his comments did not fit the image many sponsors have come to expect.
Since that interview, Pistoriuis has apologised for the timing of his comments.
Sunday was not only a lesson on getting messaging right, but how important timing your messaging is.
Ravi Vijh is an account manager at Bastion who is back in the full swing of playing hockey. Found out how his season is going on Twitter @ravivijh