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World champion canoeist hailed a hero 

A world canoe champion became a hero for the second time after saving a woman from drowning.

Three times world champion in the marathon mode, Óscar Graña rescued the 61-year-old woman who jumped into a fast-flowing river in the Spanish city of Pontevedra.

The athlete, who was out training in his canoe, said he heard a loud thump and realised someone had jumped or fallen from the nearby bridge.

He threw himself into the water and grabbed the victim by the head so she could breath in air and then managed to pull her to the shore, using all the athletic strength he had gained over the years in his sport.

He and two other passersby then hoisted the woman onto the grassy bank.

“The woman was semi-conscious so Oscar started heart massage, followed by resuscitation,” said a police spokesman.

Emergency medics rushed to the scene and continued efforts to revive the woman who was then taken to a local hospital.

The canoeist, who is a National Police deputy inspector but was off-duty at the time, prevented another drowning in the same river in 2015 when he saved a 30-year-old woman with his kayak.

On this second occasion, he was out on the river Lerez when he saw the woman floundering in the water, struggling and weak.

“At that moment I just thought about how complicated the rescue could be if she resisted, but she did not, I could swim with one arm and save her life,” he told El Pais.

He said he did not like to be thought of as a hero but he hoped his actions had helped to turn the lives of both women around.

“It’s natural instinct,” he said. “I was aware that fate wanted to save two lives.”

Graña, aged 41, has won eleven world medals in the canoe marathon between 2004 and 2016 and eight Europeans.

His bosses have hailed his bravery, as has Ana Pastor, president of Spain’s Congress of Deputies who represented Pontevedra.