Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter from South Africa, was once considered the greatest Paralympian of all time. Running on carbon-fiber legs, he racked up gold medals, broke world records, and became known simply as The Blade Runner. He inspired millions of people around the world, and was celebrated as a hero in his home country. In 2012, he made history as the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympic Games.
Then, just six months later, he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
False Idol re-examines Pistorius’ rise and fall, telling the story through the eyes of the people whose lives he irrevocably changed along the way. Journalist Tim Rohan traces Pistorius’ path to infamy, deconstructs his heroic image, and remembers the life of Reeva Steenkamp, as he tries to understand how a tragedy like her death could have happened.
False Idol: Culpability
Would Pistorius be convicted of murder? Finally, Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her verdict, and it drew a visceral reaction from across South Africa. Afterward, how would the Steenkamp family, the prosecution team, and the Paralympic community move on?
False Idol: Swart Gevaar
During his murder trial, Pistorius claimed he’d mistaken Reeva for an intruder, when he shot her in his home. He listed instances where he’d been the victim of crime. But for many South Africans, there was a coded message in Pistorius’ words –– the fear of black people invading white people’s homes. They even have a term for this fear: Swart Gevaar.
False Idol: Ready to Run?
Pistorius was arrested and charged with murder, and prosecutors Gerrie Nel and Andrea Johnson took the case. Nel and Johnson reviewed the crime scene, the evidence, the witness testimony, and were of the opinion that Pistorius killed Reeva on purpose. They viewed this as a case of gender-based violence, in a country where such crimes are sadly common.
False Idol: Reeva
In this episode, we remember the life of Reeva Steenkamp. She was an activist, a mentor, an aspiring lawyer, and a model whose career was about to take off. Her future was looking bright, when she met Pistorius in the Fall of 2012. Then three months later, he shot her dead in his home.
False Idol: A Loaded Gun
As Pistorius rose to fame, the media began learning more about him, and some of the details seemed … troubling. He drove at excessive speeds. He had an obsession with guns. He crashed a boat into a jetty. And the details of his private life were worse. In hindsight, it’s easier to see the warning signs we missed, or chose to overlook, along the way.
False Idol: Oscarmania
Pistorius was so dominant, he set his sights on a new goal: running against able-bodied athletes at the Olympic Games. Now he faced more questions, more scrutiny. Scientists wondered if the races would be fair, and Pistorius struggled to qualify. But he was buoyed by the support of his home country, South Africa, where he was considered a hero.
False Idol is well-researched with great placement of source material. This propels the story telling and adds an element of suspense. The podcast provides important insight into other critical aspects of this familiar tragedy.
I was a big fan of this podcast. I am not a big follower of the Olympics in any capacity but was intrigued by this story of Oscar Pistorius. Not only did I learn about his background, I learned a bit about the racist history of South Africa and the region’s abhorrent treatment of women. The host, Tim Rohan, could have had a better delivery when telling these stories, but did a good job overall in detailing the case.
Really good podcast... fast paced and very little filler... an excellent podcast to binge