July 15, 2008 / 11:35 AM / 10 years ago

Hungarian canoe gold medallist dies during practice

Gyorgy Kolonics (L) and Gyorgy Kozmann pose during the flat water Canoe and Kayak World Cup in Szeged, about 170 km (106 miles) south of Budapest in this June 7, 2008 file photo, where the pair qualified for the 500 metre and 1000 metre double events at the 2008 Olympic Games. Kolonics, a two-time Olympic canoeing champion, died due to a heart failure at the age of 36 on July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s two-time Olympic canoe champion Gyorgy Kolonics died on Tuesday, most likely due to heart failure, during a practice session for the Beijing Games, the Hungarian Kayak-Canoe Federation said.

Kolonics, 36, who won Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2000 and bronze medals in 1996 and 2004, fell unconscious and could not be resuscitated, Etele Barath, the federation’s president told state news agency MTI.

“There’s not a whole lot anybody can say for now, everybody who was there is in shock and can’t really tell us what happened,” Gabor Ganczer, a spokesman for the federation said.

Kolonics was set to compete in Beijing, his fifth Olympics, in the 500 metres and 1,000 metres double events with Gyorgy Kozmann.

In an international career spanning over 16 years, Kolonics won 15 world championship titles. He rose to national prominence in Hungary after taking the 500 metre doubles title in Atlanta with team mate Csaba Horvath.

Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, editing by Dave Thompson

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