Paralympics: Aussie para snowboarder dies after race crash

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian para-snowboarder Matthew Robinson has died en route home after crashing during a race in Spain, officials said on Saturday, days before he was due to compete in the Paralympics for the first time.

He suffered neck and spinal injuries on Feb 12 at the IPC World Cup finals in La Molina, Spain, the Australian Paralympic Committee said.

He spent more than a week in a Barcelona hospital before being cleared to take an air ambulance to Melbourne.

"During a scheduled refuelling stop in Kuwait, Matthew suffered a cardiac arrest on board the aircraft" on Friday, the committee said in a statement. "Sadly, he could not be revived.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Matthew's parents, his fiancee, his family and his teammates."

The International Paralympic Committee added their condolences. "The whole of the Paralympic movement is deeply saddened by this heart breaking tragedy," said IPC president Philip Craven.

"Matthew was a world class and extremely popular athlete, a fact underlined by the vast number of support messages he received from round the world following last week's accident."

Snowboarding will be part of the Paralympics for the first time this year with two events at the Sochi Games, which open on March 7.