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Olympian Pistorius in court Friday after girlfriend killed in his house

Alessandro Garofalo | Reuters
Alessandro Garofalo | Reuters
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa trains before the men's 400 meters event at the 23rd International Athletics Meeting in Lignano Sabbiadoro July 17, 2012.
By Andres R. Martinez and Franz Wild, Bloomberg

JOHANNESBURG — South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius will appear in a Pretoria court Friday after police said a 30-year-old woman was shot dead in his house, according to prosecutors and police.

Police have opened a murder case against a 26-year-old man and will oppose bail, Denise Beukes, a police spokeswoman said in Pretoria, the capital. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Medupe Simasiku said Pistorius will appear in court Friday in the city. Kenny Oldwadge, a lawyer for Pistorius, declined to comment by phone Thursday.

Reeva Steenkamp, a model who was dating Pistorius, died Thursday morning, Ice Model Management, which represented Steenkamp, said in a statement.

“The only two people on the premises were the resident and the deceased,” Beukes said. “We can confirm Oscar is at the Boschkop police station.”

Pistorius, dubbed “the Blade Runner” because of his double leg amputation and prosthetic running blades, has won six paralympic gold medals. He became the first amputee runner to compete at an Olympic Games in London last year and was named by Time Magazine in its list of the world’s 100 most-influential people. Pistorius was born without fibulas and had both legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.

“There are witnesses and they have also been interviewed,” Beukes said. “We are talking about neighbors and people who heard things earlier in the evening and during the shooting.”

South Africa recorded 30.9 murders per 100,000 people in the 12 month period through March 2012, down from 31.9 per 100,000, the South African Police Service said on Sept. 20. The murder rate has fallen since reaching 67.9 per 100,000 in 1995, when the police force was integrated after the end of all-white, apartheid rule. South Africa’s murder rate is more than six times that of the U.S.

Pistorius, who runs with J-shaped carbon-fiber blades, competed in his first able-bodied elite event at the 2011 track and field world championships in Daegu, South Korea. He got his chance after sport’s highest tribunal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in 2008 overturned a ban on him competing against able-bodied athletes imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, which said his blades give him an advantage.

As a child, he played sports including water polo, cricket, tennis and boxing. As part of his rehabilitation after injuring his knee while playing rugby as a 16-year-old, Pistorius took up track running. A year later he won the gold medal in the 200 meters at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

Pistorius’s manager Peet van Zyl said he was unable to comment when contacted on his mobile phone. Sunglasses designer Oakley, perfume producer Thierry Mugler, telecommunications provider BT Group, international law firm Dewey & Leboeuf, and Ossur, which manufactured his Flex-Foot Cheetah blades, sponsor Pistorius, according to his website.

Ossur said it may end the deal with Pistorius if he is charged, Sigurborg Arnarsdottir, a spokeswoman, said Thursday. It seems like a “terrible accident” and “doesn’t necessarily mean that Ossur will back out of sponsoring” him, she said.

“It is indeed a very sad day for all those that loved and treasured her,” Ice Model Management said. James Kelly, the managing director of the agency, said Steenkamp and Pistorius were dating.

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