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Road cyclist Gary Longhi, 4-time Paralympian for Canada, dies at 56

Gary Longhi, a four-time Paralympian road cyclist and Canada's flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, has died. He was 56.

The Canadian Paralympic Committee announced his death Friday.

Longhi competed in the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Games, winning gold and bronze in '96 in Atlanta and silver in '92 in Barcelona.

The Montreal native was the first Paralympic athlete to be inducted into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame (2017).

"Sometimes in society I feel like an outsider," he said. "On the bike, I'm normal. Everything is smooth, not as harsh as usual. It's freedom for me."

Longhi took up elite-level cycling as part of his rehabilitation following a 1983 motorcycle crash that nearly claimed his life and left him in a coma for three months. His brain injury qualified him for a cerebral palsy category of competition.