International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons has led the tributes to legendary Brazilian boccia player Dirceu Jose Pinto, who has died age 39.
Pinto, a four-time Paralympic champion, passed away in Mogi das Cruzes near São Paulo on Wednesday (April 1).
The Brazilian died of heart failure, the IPC said in a statement.
Pinto won gold in the individual and pairs BC4 classification at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, a feat he repeated at London 2012 four years later.
He also claimed team silver at his home Rio 2016 Paralympics with Eliseu dos Santos and Marcelo dos Santos.
"One of the greatest boccia athletes of all time is gone," Parsons wrote on Twitter.
Um dos maiores atletas da Bocha de todos os tempos se foi. Dirceu Pinto faleceu hoje de insuficiência cardíaca, aos 39 anos. Lembro quando ganhou duas medalhas de ouro em Pequim 2008, e, junto com Eliseu Santos, fez o Brasil se apaixonar pela modalidade. https://t.co/831QHf7peC pic.twitter.com/MSaJ81WJFK— Andrew Parsons (@parsonsandrew) April 1, 2020
"Dirceu Pinto died today of heart failure, at 39 years old.
"I remember when he won two gold medals in Beijing 2008, and, together with Eliseu Santos, made Brazil fall in love with the sport."
Boccia International Sports Federation President David Hadfield described Pinto as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
"Dirceu was a tremendous athlete, a multiple gold medal Paralympian and world boccia champion and his results speak for themselves," Hadfield said.
"He will be missed by all of us and our thoughts are with his friends and family."