Pistorius' agent begins canceling races

GERALD IMRAY AP Sports Writer Published:

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -- Oscar Pistorius' agent has begun calling off races for the Olympic sprinter since he was charged with the shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius' agent, Peet van Zyl, tells The Associated Press he canceled the contract on Saturday for a high-profile rematch with fellow double-amputee Alan Oliveira to promote the 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

Oliveira beat Pistorius in the 200 meters at the Paralympics in London last year. Pistorius and Oliveira were to run a straight 200-meter race on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on March 31.

Pistorius was charged with the murder of Steenkamp after she was shot dead at the home of the multiple Paralympic champion on Thursday. South African prosecutors have said they will pursue a more serious premeditated murder charge against the 26-year-old Pistorius, leaving him possibly facing a life sentence.

"I can't plan anything," Van Zyl said of Pistorius' immediate running career, which was not a priority after the murder charge and Steenkamp's death. "I will only have him run when he is in a condition to run as a world-class athlete. Physically and mentally fit."

Pistorius broke down and wept on his first appearance in court on Friday. His family, in a statement to the AP, said it is "devastated" and in "a state of total shock." Arnold Pistorius, the runner's uncle, said the family also was grieving for Steenkamp, her family and her friends.

Van Zyl said he had first canceled two races in Australia, in Sydney on March 9 and Perth on March 16. Those were to have started Pistorius' season as he aimed to qualify for the world championships in Moscow in August and build on his historic runs on his carbon-fiber blades at the London Olympics.

A 150-meter race in May against Britain's Jonnie Peacock, the single-amputee sprinter and 100-meter Paralympic champion, had to be called off as well. Also scrapped were scheduled Diamond League appearances and a race at the Drake Relays in Iowa in the United States.

In all, Van Zyl said he had canceled about seven 400-meter races, as well as the exhibitions against Oliveira and Peacock.

Pistorius was the first amputee athlete to run at the able-bodied worlds in 2011 and then the Olympics last year. He and longtime coach Ampie Louw had planned to give up track together after the next Olympics and Paralympics in Rio.