The International Canoe Federation has paid tribute to Romanian paracanoe athlete, Iulian Serban, who has passed away at the age of 35.

Messages of condolence have been posted from throughout the canoeing world, paying respects to a three-time world champion who finished fourth in the men’s KL3 final at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Serban began his career in sprint canoe in 1998, following the lead of his mother and brother. In 2006 he suffered horrific injuries when he slipped under a train, losing his right leg and damaging his left leg, head, lungs, liver and spine.

By the time he finally was able to return to the water he had undergone 20 operations and endured seven months in bed.

He dominated the men’s K1 LTA competition between 2010 and 2012, winning three consecutive world titles, and won silver in 2013 and 2014.

In 2016 he received a sporting achievement award from the Romanian Canoe Kayak Federation following the Rio Games, where he made history as his country’s first Paralympic male paddler.

Romania paracanoe Iulian Serban