Pretoria: A sobbing Oscar Pistorius was formally charged by a South African magistrate on Friday with murdering his model girlfriend on Valentine's Day.
     
The 26-year-old superstar sprinter broke down in the dock as magistrate Desmond Nair announced a single charge of killing his lover, blonde covergirl Reeva Steenkamp.
     
The double amputee, an inspirational hero of last year's London Olympics, sat hunched, audibly crying as Nair considered whether to allow the proceedings at the Pretoria court to be broadcast. Relatives in the public gallery tried in vain to console the gold medalist.
     
Known worldwide as "Blade Runner" because of his carbon fibre prostheses -- Pistorius ius accused of shooting his glamorous lover four times at his upmarket Pretoria home in the early hours on Thursday. She was shot with his 9mm pistol, suffering wounds to the head and hand and died on the scene.
     
The sprinter had spent the night behind bars and was subject to blood-alcohol, DNA and other tests, as forensics experts continued to work at the crime scene at his home.
     
Police have poured cold water on initial reports that Pistorius had shot his 29-year-old girlfriend after mistaking her for a burglar.
     
Police were called to Pistorius's home at around 4:00 am by neighbours who heard gunshots.
     
The newspaper, which first broke the dramatic news of his arrest on Thursday, said the shots that killed Steenkamp were fired through a bathroom door.
     
Pistorius became an international celebrity during last year's London Olympics, inspiring millions as the first double-amputee to compete alongside able-bodied athletes.
     
Now his apparent fall from grace has equally captured the attention of millions around the world.

(Agencies)

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