Blade runner Oscar Pistorius has offered his "deepest sympathies" to the family of his dead girlfriend as he denied her murder in the "strongest terms".
The world's best-known Paralympian was taken into custody on Thursday after Reeva Steenkamp, 30, was shot dead at his exclusive South African home.
He broke down in tears as he appeared in court accused of her premeditated murder at the luxury, gated Silver Lakes Golf Estate in Pretoria.
Pistorius, 26, sat with his head bowed when he was brought before magistrates and began to sob, covering his face with his hands, as the charge against him was read out. Chief magistrate Desmond Nair told him: "Take it easy. Come take a seat."
The gold-medal winner, who earned his Blade Runner nickname because of his prosthetic racing legs, was supported by his father Henke, brother Carl and sister Aimee as prosecutors said they would pursue a charge of premeditated murder.
His family and management company later issued a staunch denial of the allegation on behalf of the track superstar.
They said: "Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp.
"Oscar Pistorius has appeared in court here in Pretoria this morning formally charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp. The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms."
The statement added: "Oscar Pistorius has made history as an Olympic and Paralympic sportsman and has been an inspiration to others the world over. He has made it very clear that he would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva.
"He would also like to express his thanks through us today for all the messages of support he has received - but as stated our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family, regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy."