RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iranian cyclist Sarafraz Bahman Golbarnezhad died after an accident while competing at the Rio Paralympics, officials said on Saturday.
The 48-year-old was involved in a crash during a mountainous stretch of the C4-5 event course, according to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
"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 IPC said.
"The ambulance diverted to the nearby Unimed Rio Hospital in Barra da Tijuca where he passed away soon after arrival."
Authorities said they had launched an investigation into the accident. According to the IPC, it is the first time an athlete has died during competition in the 56-year history of the Paralympic Games.
Golbarnezhad was competing in his second race in Rio after finishing 14th in the C4 time trial on Wednesday.
According to his friend, Hashem Rastegarimobin, who competed for Iran in football 7-a-side in Rio, Golbarnezhad took up cycling in 2002 after losing his leg due to a war injury in the 1980s.
"He was somebody who always had a smile on his face. He was a happy guy," Rastegarimobin told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.
Iran's Paralympic committee said: "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.
"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 Iranian flag was lowered to half-mast at the athletes' village and a minute silence will be observed at Sunday's closing ceremony.
"This is truly heart-breaking 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," IPC president Philip Craven said.
"The Paralympic family is united in grief at this horrendous tragedy which casts a shadow over what has been a great Paralympic Games here in Rio."