Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad has died after a crash in the C4-5 road race in Rio de Janeiro. It's believed to be the first such death at a Paralympic Games since they began in 1960.
Organizers with the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) in Rio de Janeiro have confirmed that Bahman Golbarnezhad (above photo, left) died after crashing on a mountainous stretch of the road cycling course on Saturday morning.
"The IPC confirm that Golbarnezhad was involved in a crash at around 10:40 a.m. on the first section of the Grumari loop, a mountainous stretch of the course," the International Paralympic Committee said. "The athlete received treatment at the scene and was in the process of being taken to the athlete hospital when he suffered a cardiac arrest."
"The ambulance diverted to the nearby Unimed Rio Hospital in Barra da Tijuca where he passed away soon after arrival," the IPC statement concluded.
An investigation is being carried out into the incident.
"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," said IPC President Philip Craven.
"The Paralympic family is united in grief at this horrendous tragedy, which casts a shadow over what have been great Paralympic Games," he added.
The Iranian flag has been lowered to half-staff in the Paralympic Village. It will also be lowered when Iran faces Bosnia and Herzegovina in the men's sitting-volleyball final on Sunday.
"This is very sad news for sport and for the Paralympic movement," Carlos Nuzman, head of the Rio Olympic organizing committee, said in a statement. "Our hearts and prayers are with Bahman's family, his teammates and all the people of Iran."
Golbarnezhad was born in Shiraz, Iran, and took up the sport in 2002. He competed in the London Paralympics and was taking part in C4-5 races for athletes with lower limb impairments or amputations. He had finished 14th in a time trial race on Wednesday.
"He was an exemplary Paralympic sportsman who, with love and energy, tried his best to promote the name of Iran and to make all of us proud and at the end he gave his life for this," said Golbarnezhad's national Paralympic Committee.
"All members of the Iranian cultural and sports camp here express condolences to his family and the Iranian nation. The name of Bahman Golbarnezhad will be inscribed in the proud history of Iranian Paralympics," the committee said.
A moment of silence is be held at Sunday's closing ceremony in Maracana Stadium.
jm/cmk (Reuters, AP)