An Iranian cyclist has died following a crash in the men’s C4-5 road race in Rio on Saturday, becoming the first Paralympic athlete to die in competition.
Bahman Golbarnezhad suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to hospital after crashing at about 10.40am local time on a mountainous stretch of the road cycling course.
An investigation has been launched into the 48-year-old’s death.
Golbarnezhad, from Shiraz, lost control during a descent 35km into the race, the head of Iran’s national Paralympic committee (NPC) said.
Masoud Ashrafi, the head of the NPC, said Golbarnezhad “lost control and he hit the fence or wall”.
Officials said the cause of the crash remains unclear.
Golbarnezhad received emergency treatment on the course before being transported to hospital.
The cyclist was competing in the C4-5 races for athletes with lower limb impairments or amputations.
Golbarnezhad was also a competitor at the London Paralympics, although he did not come home with a medal.
This was his second race in Rio, finishing in the time trial.
Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said: “The Paralympic family is united in grief at this horrendous tragedy, which casts a shadow over what have been great Paralympic Games,” the Associated Press reports.
“This is truly heartbreaking news, and the thoughts and condolences of the whole Paralympic Movement are with Bahman’s family, friends, and teammates, as well as the whole of the National Paralympic Committee of Iran,” Sir Philip added.
The Iranian flag was lowered to half-staff in the Paralympic Village.
A moment of silence will be held at Sunday’s closing ceremony in Maracana Stadium.
Ashrafi said Golbarnezhad had been cycling for 12 years and he was the Iranian Paralympic team’s “best cyclist”.
Ashrafi said: “He was married and has a wife and one son.
“He was the kind of man who was a family man. He loved his family,” the BBC reports.