But the tragic events in the early hours of St Valentine’s Day on the exclusive estate where Olympic and Paralympic pioneer Oscar Pistorius lives cast a long shadow around the world after the shooting of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, 26, who describes himself as the “fastest man on no legs”, found worldwide fame as an athlete and has been an inspiration abroad for his lifelong determination to transcend physical boundaries.
The star was born without fibulas and underwent below-the-knee amputations at just 11 months old.
His disability did not hold him back, and he became a star after taking up running on specially-made blades. His appearance at the London Olympics was among the highlights and he went on to win two golds and a silver medal at the Paralympics.
Pistorius had been dating Miss Steenkamp, 30, who described herself on her Twitter biography as a “model, cover girl, law graduate and child of God”, since November.
Last night there was fevered speculation over what had happened at the exclusive high security gated estate in Pretoria where gunshots rang out in the early hours. Police said there were no signs of forced entry at the property where Miss Steenkamp was found dead with wounds to her head and upper body.
Pistorius’s father Henke said: “I don’t know the facts. If anyone makes a statement, it will have to be Oscar.”
In a Twitter response to someone else’s plans for February 14, Miss Steenkamp had said: “That sounds amazing! Wow that’s what it’s all about! It should be a day of love for everyone :) may it be blessed!”
Her publicist Sarit Tomlinson paid tribute to her, saying she was “the sweetest human being and an absolute angel on earth”. She added: “She was the kindest, most unbelievable girl. It’s shocking.”
Asked about Miss Steenkamp’s relationship with Pistorius, she added: “They had been together for a couple of months and it’s been a fabulous relationship – a healthy, fabulous relationship.”
Miss Steenkamp’s friend Mashadi Motsogi was in tears as she said: “Look, security here is safe. We moved to this area for security reasons. It does not make sense to me that my friend was shot, mistaken for an intruder.”
Sheffield heptathlete Jessica Ennis spoke of her shock on Twitter, describing the “horrendous news” as an “awful tragedy”.
London 2012 Paralympic 200m champion Richard Whitehead tweeted: “Shocking news this morning regards my buddy Oscar P what a tragedy!!! Unbelievable I’m speechless £oscar.”
Michael McKillop, Beijing 2008 800m gold medallist and world record holder from Ireland, described Pistorius “the most harmless man you will ever meet”.
Just three days ago, Pistorius tweeted his excitement about his first race of 2013.
He said: “1 month till my first race of 2013.. Can’t wait to burn it up!”